Parade's End

Parade’s End

The fantastic TV adaptation was what first alerted me to the wonderful Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. It is a brilliant book set before, during and after the First World War, examining the impact the war has on a cast of characters and their beliefs, values and behaviour. The centre of which is Christopher Tietjens, his wife Slyvia and the women he loves Valentine Wannop (and what fabulous names they all have too).

Christopher is old school. Born the third son he becomes the reluctant heir to a very great Yorkshire estate, a place he loves and understands more than anyone else in the family, but where fate dictates he cannot live, or even save its great oak tree.

Christopher marries Slyvia – a intricately written character whose Roman Catholicism fights with her desire to unsuccessfully find love outside her marriage, before realising too late that she had what she wanted and needed all along.

But he then meets Valentine, who is immediately clearly the woman he is supposed to be with. Their souls connect and he struggles to reconcile his feelings with his belief that he must stand by Slyvia, despite her ever increasing and deliberate attempts to ruin him as a way of attracting his attention.

And all of that is before even touching on the war itself.

The 900 pages slipped by with the plot, writing, and understanding of the human condition being unsurpassable. What an incredible book.