Consisting of four novels - Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and The Last Post - Parade's End is the story of Christopher Tietjens and his progress from the secure world of Edwardian England into the First World War and beyond. Tietjens embodies the values of that ordered, predictable, hierarchic society of pre-1914. Contrasted with him and portrayed with equal clarity and depth is his wife Sylvia - beautiful, arrogant, reckless - a symbol of the new times. Their conflict, the chronicle of a family and of an era, makes Parade's End both a gripping study of character and a work of amazing subtlety and depth.
©1924 First published by Duckworth (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
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"One of the finest novels I've heard in a long time"
I would never have attempted this book as a novel to read. It's not for the faint-hearted. It's enormous, and needs a streak of stubborness to stay loyal throughout its intense analytic journey. Its in-depth exploration of the characters' conscious thoughts, their experiences, their motivations, is exquisite. I had just finished listening to Stendhal's "The Red and the Black", and the 1st volume clearly owed a debt to that and other French 19th century novelists. However, as the author takes us deep down into the collective conscious and unconscious of a section of the the English upper classes, it finds it's own justification and moral force. The characters are awesomely good, or bad, or indifferent. Superb value as a monthly credit. This has been the saving grace of a knockout bout of flu. It's the first time I've heard of the narrator, and I would rank him among the best - not very far below Jim Norton (Ulysses). I hope to hear him again. Well done Audible and the publisher. I can't wait to hear "The Good Soldier". The only question is - which version to choose?
"Wonderful, how could I have missed this!"
It was the TV adaptation that made me look this book up, I admit - but how could I have missed it previously? Its wonderful - complex and real. Reading the book, I realise how wonderful both the script and the TV characterisations are - and conversely the TV adaptation can only attempt to capture the essence(s) of this wonderful book. Beautifully read - enjoy!
Like another reviewer, having come to Ford Madox Ford after the TV serialisation, I'm amazed I've never read any of his work before. This is a suberb series of novels, the story revealing itself through the internal musings of different characters and the same incident often depicted through different eyes and with a different perspective. It is ironic, self deprecating, funny, farcical, tragic and comic at different turns and manages to sustain a good deal of tension as you are never sure, for instance, of how much damage Sylvia Tiejens may wreak in her malice and cruelty. The parts dealing with the army and the war anticipate Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse 5 in farcical inaptitude, upper class incompetence and self defeating paperwork while at the same time being very realistic in portraying shell shock, mud and misery in the trenches. At first it can be hard to work out the time sequence of events (and here it helps to have seen the TV series) but if you let the book carry you along, it soon all falls into place and the story and the characters build like a painting or a tapestry. The narrator is magnificent; his accents and voices for all the characters are excellent and he conveys the gentle irony that imbues much of the books but which could be missed by a blunter reader.
If you don't want to embark on something as long as Parade's End as a first encounter with Ford Madox Ford, I recommend The Good Soldier. I listened to the Kerry Shale version which was excellent.
"Great work, bad narration"
The narration of John Telfer or the editing of the audiobook seems very emotionless and disjointed, to the point of being unlistenable. I wish there was another version.
"Well worth the effort!"
This is not the easiest of books to follow, but I was drawn into it and soon found it totally immersing. The narration is intelligent and sympathetic, and the reader's voice is pleasing.
"Outstanding narration by John Telfer"
Ford Madox Ford’s beautifully written tetralogy of the era surrounding the First World War is sublimely narrated by John Telfer. Every character, no matter how small a part they play, is given his/her own voice so that they leap into the imagination and become alive and real to the listener.
I attempted the omnibus in book form but found the hopping backwards and forwards in time and frequent lapses into internal dialogue difficult to follow. I was persuaded by the quality of the writing to try the audiobook. Performed by such a competent actor the listening experience was a joy and time flew as words flowed. If I could have changed anything I would have removed the last book which did not add to the story.
"If you liked it on TV you'll love this"
This is the best thing I've listened to since 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. If you enjoyed Tom Stoppard's recent TV adaption, but found it a bit too condensed, give this a try. The principal characters - the 'saintly mealsack' Christopher Tietjens, his beautiful and manipulative wife, Sylvia, the love of this life,Valentine Wannop, and his up-tight but loyal brother, Mark, are so richly drawn and we are given such access to their inner worlds, through Ford's stream of consciousness technique, we feel we know them intimately by the end. Christopher and Valentine's relationship, unrequited for the most of the tetralogy, is without question one of the great love affairs of literature. Three long days which stretch well into the night dominate the narrative - the first on midsummer's day in 1912 when Christopher and Valentine spend a whole night in conversation as they ride until dawn; the second in 1916 is the day before Christopher returns to the trenches; and the third is Armistice day in 1918. Each is partially recounted and remembered many times, and each time it is we learn more, first from one person's perspective and then from another's, until we can piece together the whole event from beginning to end and understand its significance for the characters and, crucially, its consequences. I won't say more in case you didn't watch it on TV. It's not without flaws, but for a moving and often tortuous love story and an insight into social mores of upper class Edwardian society it is unbeatable. ,
I am an avid listener to audio books with a diverse taste. I am 1/2 way through this and have very little idea what it's about, it is just difficult and hard work to follow. I thought it would be an enchanting period drama but I'm very close to giving up on it........... I've never done that before.
"A virtuoso reading"
Anyone who has read, or attempted to read, Parade’s End in the print version will understand the almost irresistible urge to 'skip'. One of the great joys of audiobooks is that they make this difficult and, given the outstanding quality of John Telfer’s reading, I found that I had no desire to do so.
Despite the fact that Ford Maddox Ford was in the vanguard of modernist writing, Parade’s End feels surprisingly old fashioned dealing as it does with the destruction of the old certainties of Edwardian England. The book is at its best when describing the First World War – underlining not so much the horror but rather the organizational difficulties and sheer tedium of life at the front. However most of the narrative is revealed through the private thoughts of the protagonists by means of the classic modernist techniques of ‘time shift’ and ‘stream of conciousness’.
I found the characterization unconvincing and the characters’ motivations often inexplicable. Christopher Tietjens is unrelentingly passive, Valentine Wannap unrelentingly angelic and Sylvia Tietjens unrelentingly monstrous – no real woman so completely lacks any redeeming features.
Despite the above I enjoyed Parade’s End, which I listened to mainly whilst tramping the Shropshire hills. As long as you can relax and let Ford’s prose flow over you without trying too hard to decipher the plot you will enjoy it too.
An extra star for John Telfer’s reading.
"A masterful performance"
An extraordinary reading - measured and rendered with immense care and elegance. Since the book is mainly a stream of consciousness, the reader has the challenge if evoking thoughts rather than conversation. The book is long and something of a challenge to the listener as very little happens. What’s more, the book is clearly intended to be experimental and I think we must understand it not on the surface, but as a criticism of contemporary mores. But if you stick with it you will want to find out what happens to all the characters who gradually worm themselves into your heart. Although I've read this book on paper it's difficult to imagine it any other way but read out loud by such a talented reader.
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