The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford

Author: Ford Madox Ford. Review by Simon Webb.

'Ford may have used a wealthy US Quaker as his narrator because such a man could find himself caught up in these events while still being able to observe them.' | Photo: Detail of bookcover for The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford

The Good Soldier (1915) is routinely included in lists of the best novels written in English. John Dowell, its narrator, is a Quaker from an old Pennsylvania family. He is one of those unreliable narrators, far from disinterested. He is one of the four main characters in the novel – the quartet comprises two wealthy couples; two US citizens and two Brits – who drift around the world staying at exclusive spas, because two of them are supposed to have heart problems. Between them, the four have two dreadful marriages and a tortured adulterous relationship. A fifth character, the fragile Nancy, makes the picture even darker.

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