Book Diary Special – ‘Parade’s End’ by Ford Madox Ford

Thursday 14th March – Friday 19th April

This was to be included in March’s Book Diary, but it ended up with its own entry due to the sheer length of time it took to read. By the middle of April I had only got a third of the way through.

Shortly after that, I paused it to read something lighter, quicker and easier and never went back to it.

Mum suggested watching the TV adaptation in the hope that doing so would make things clearer, but if anything it persuaded me that it wasn’t worth continuing.

My main issue really was with the arc of the story. The main character, Peter Tietjens, starts the book as a highly principled genius married to an attractive but unpleasant wife and tempted by a young suffragette he encounters by chance but also knows via a family connection. As the book progresses, he acts with honour and integrity only for everyone of significance to misinterpret his actions to the detriment of his situation, and he ends the story penniless and embarking on an affair with the former suffragette having been exploited, denigrated or maligned by those around him.

To me, his integrity gets him nowhere and he ends by abandoning his principles and thus being dragged down to the level of the lesser men who have surrounded him throughout the story. I found this corruption of a good man to be a dispiriting idea and so could not find the motivation to persist with the book.

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