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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 20 July 2019

"A Man Could Stand Up" by Ford Madox Ford

This is the third book in the Parade's End tetralogy (which started with Some Do Not...). At the end of the second book (No More Parades) Valentine Wannop had agreed to become Christopher Tientjens's mistress starting that night nut something went wrong with the timings and Tientjens went back to the trenches of the western front in the First World War. Now it is Armistice Day and Valentine, a PE teacher at a Girls' Public School, receives a phone call telling her that Tientjens is back in his old digs. After some chapters of internal debate and talking to the Headmistress, Valentine decides to go to Tientjens. Part two flashes back to a day in the trenches when Tientjens, the second in command, relieves his drunken CO of command and prepares the battalion to stand firm in the face of an expected German attack. Part Three goes back to Armistice Day; Valentine encounters Tientjens in his flat and thinks he has been driven mad. But will she agree, a second time, to become his mistress?

So not a lot happens and there is an awful lot of Valentine's stream of consciousness as, with broken sentences and fragmented thoughts, she debates on the propriety of what she is about to do. It might have been raunchy back then but nowadays the endless disputes about a lady's reputation are outdated. Without that, the entire novel does seem a rather melodramatic storm in a teacup. But, given the author's history, one knows that the trench scenes are authentic.

Some good quotes:
  • You couldn’t call it a ménage a trois, even if you didn’t know French.” (P1, C2)
  • Edith Ethel with the sweetest possible smile would beg the pillows off a whole hospital ward full of dying.” (P1, C2)
  • Fulham, an unattractive suburb but near a bishop’s palace nevertheless.” (P1, C3)
  • If people wanted you to appreciate items of sledge-hammering news they should not use long sentences.” (P1, C3)
  • You are lying down under fire—flat under pretty smart fire—and you have only a paper bag in front of your head for cover you feel immeasurably safer than you do without it." (P2, C1)
  • This was the intimate fear of black quiet nights, in dugouts where you heard the obscene suggestions of the miners’ picks below you; tranquil, engrossed.”(P2, C1)
  • “As a well-trained dog will do when you tell it to stay in one part of a room and it prefers another. ... Creeps from the rug by the door to the hearth-rug, its eyes on your unconscious face.”(P2, C2)
July 2019

The tetralogy is completed in Last Post.

Ford Madox Ford also wrote what has been called the perfect novel: The Good Soldier

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