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Extended Audio Sample The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion Audiobook, by Ford Madox Ford Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.53 out of 53.53 out of 53.53 out of 53.53 out of 53.53 out of 5 3.53 (95 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ford Madox Ford Narrator: Gildart Jackson Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781400189472
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Handsome, wealthy, and a veteran of service in India, Captain Edward Ashburnham appears to be the ideal “good soldier” and the embodiment of English upper-class virtues. But for his creator, Ford Madox Ford, he also represents the corruption at society’s core. Beneath Ashburnham’s charming, polished exterior lurks a soul well-versed in the arts of deception, hypocrisy, and betrayal. Throughout the nine years of his friendship with an equally privileged American, John Dowell, Ashburnham has been having an affair with Dowell’s wife, Florence. Unlike Dowell, Ashburnham’s own wife, Leonora, is well aware of it.

When The Good Soldier was first published in 1915, its pitiless portrait of an amoral society dedicated to its own pleasure and convinced of its own superiority outraged many readers. Stylistically daring, The Good Soldier is narrated, unreliably, by Dowell, through whom Ford provides a level of bitter irony. Dowell’s disjointed, stumbling storytelling not only subverts linear temporality to satisfying effect, it also reflects his struggle to accept a world without honor, order, or permanence. Called the best French novel in the English language, The Good Soldier is both tragic and darkly comic, and it established Ford as an important contributor to the development of literary modernism.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 2/19/2014

    " read for college Sunset on the British Empire course "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 2/17/2014

    " A great book for sentimentalists "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arne | 2/12/2014

    " Started out slow, but after...hmmm...50 pages it really picked up. First-person story told with little dialogue. The characters are very well developed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet | 2/12/2014

    " It's a classic book with a very unique writing style. It's hard to follow the meandering narrative at times and probably worth a second reading to delve into the character development by the author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellin | 2/9/2014

    " I'd never heard of this book until I read a review last year. Apparently it's a classic written in 1915 set in a pre-WWI German spa town (for the most part). English author ... about an English gentleman who has affairs left and right and how these events affect the lives of the people around him. I had high expectations after reading the reviews which might account for some of why I was disappointed in the book. I didn't care much for this book although I did have enough interest to keep reading to see how it ended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andra | 2/5/2014

    " Great Modernist book. It makes you question the narrator and his point of view. You can't always trust the narrator when reading a story, this can especially be seen in books of the British Modern Era. This also displays other difficult themes of British Modern Literature "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lilian | 1/28/2014

    " I would like to write a book as deeply investigated and hotly debated as this one. Written during the outbreak of the first World War, this is a novel about two enmeshed couples, marital affairs, passion and the forbidden object of passion. One of the marriages is between a tart and an asexual man (the narrator). The other marriage is between an uptight woman and a man who is generous of spirit and body (courtly knight or lech, depending on your view). But the beauty of this book, for me, isn't as much in what it's about as in how the story is told. Continued here "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clark Maddux | 1/26/2014

    " This is the saddest story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arne | 1/25/2014

    " Started out slow, but after...hmmm...50 pages it really picked up. First-person story told with little dialogue. The characters are very well developed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Hinkson | 1/25/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book, but it was a bit too complex for me to quite get on my own. I had to read the Barnes and Noble introduction by Frank Kermode to understand all the stuff I had missed. Still, it is a unique and intriguing way of telling the story of immoral and deceitful people in Victorian times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Myoho2000 | 1/22/2014

    " THE GOOD SOLDIER (by Ford Madox Ford) is a classic example of the 'unreliable narrator' technique in fiction. The reader must constantly decide what really happened in the story, and it is never a matter of simply dismissing what the narrator says; the narrator's own attitudes and actions are crucially involved in the plot. It is often funny, and is a view of a very interesting world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janelle V. | 1/17/2014

    " A technical masterpiece. My greatest joy in reading the book was in analyzing Ford's narrative technique. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gerald Camp | 1/15/2014

    " One of the saddest stories I've ever read--but very beautifully written. If Ford had written 50% of his novels at that level of control and skill and feeling, he would be considered onw of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/13/2014

    " This book was DULL. I thought it might be along the lines of Revolutionary Road - one of my favourites - but it wasn't. The narration was a mess, full of sentiments and emotions that I just didn't care about one bit. The idea behind how it's written is good - told through the eyes of a ridiculously naive man who has no idea about what his wife or friends are up to. But I personally didn't like the writing. Clearly, I've missed something that other readers seem to love in this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 1/10/2014

    " A literary classic I had missed with the most unreliable narrator ever . . . Definitely one to read slowly, but worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 1/4/2014

    " I liked it. I have been pondering this book a bit since I finished it and - admittedly I struggled with the complex plot, the writing, the endless description of a series of affairs and their upsetting consequences on the lives of nearly every character throughout the novel - I now realize that there isn't a perfect linear understanding of the reality within this story. Truth is illusive, truth is slippery and kaleidoscopic. It changes and tries to stay just a half step away from our sensory organs and their conspiratorial alliance with our reasoning organ and its faculties and components. The truth was never to be known. It was always going to be frustrated and disastrous. Sound familiar? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cody | 12/31/2013

    " As Meredith claimed: "gorgeous narrative structure." It also signals the end of the "novel" as we knew it. Good thing it's utterly perfect. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 12/30/2013

    " From four to five stars. Changed my mind after thinking about it some more. I can do that, you know. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 sarah gilbert | 12/29/2013

    " this is, unquestionably, the best book I've ever read, deep and light and convoluted and readable and fraught with love, hate, despair, hope. it very nearly made me become an English professor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Shelton | 12/26/2013

    " A modernist classic and a narrative puzzle. Black, black comedy. Ford was very clever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 12/23/2013

    " This is a powerful book and one that has slipped from the consciousness of most contemporary readers (if it was ever there). It's themes of love, passion and jealousy ring true even if the decor is quaint. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 12/20/2013

    " Shakespearian! You have to study this one but it's worth it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tyler | 12/16/2013

    " Crazy, unreliable, biased narrator talks about how his wife was unfaithful with his friend, everyone dies. Happy days. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie | 12/9/2013

    " Reading for Rockville Book Club - and using as a "classic" in my 2010 Book Challenge (52 Books this year -- to include 7 classics) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 12/9/2013

    " Great work, Hueffer, but that guy's obviously not American. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly Mogilefsky | 12/9/2013

    " A great example of the early unreliable narrator. At every turn, this narrator bends time, withholds information and reveals information he claims to withhold. He's not to be trusted, and he's one of the first of his kind. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 F Clark | 12/8/2013

    " I loved the Parade's End tetralogy, but was rather disappointed in this one. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kirsten | 12/1/2013

    " Melodramatic sexist and anti-Catholic dreck. Disorganized in what I suppose was an "experimental" way back in the day. Why was this ever on my to-read list?? Total waste of time. All characters are horrible people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eddie Watkins | 11/30/2013

    " The deepest story about shallow people I have ever heard. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nick | 11/24/2013

    " If you want some upper class British adultery mixed with scathing narrative bitterness and poignant irony, look no further: The Good Soldier is for you. If, on the other hand, you want to retain some shred of morality and faith in humanity, stay away. Far, far away... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Meg | 11/22/2013

    " Oy vey... On and on and on... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 George | 11/17/2013

    " A very cleverly written story that held my interest. A very sad tale where no one seems to achieve a level of satisfaction with their life. The book is worth reading for the original style of writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 11/16/2013

    " This is a powerful book and one that has slipped from the consciousness of most contemporary readers (if it was ever there). It's themes of love, passion and jealousy ring true even if the decor is quaint. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Edward | 11/12/2013

    " The people in this novel are not "good people" although the narrator describes themselves as "good people." They are uninteresting, vacuous and very shallow. I read the novel as it was identified as one of the top 100 novels of all time by The Guardian. Hard to understand that designation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John P | 11/7/2013

    " An amazing mess? I never reached, or approached, empathy with any of the characters so I enjoyed the mess not for storytelling, even though Madox Ford writes "this is the Saddest story I've ever heard," but for the enjoyment of reading the exceptional writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mariya | 10/19/2013

    " "The Good Soldier" is what "Revolutionary Road" written by Waugh would read like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jscorse | 10/4/2013

    " Themes don't quite shock now but solid. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 10/3/2013

    " Two couples in 1902-1914 - one British and one American. I read a list of books that were written by "must read authors." Since I had never read his works, I gave it a try. It's very good. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Eileen | 9/5/2013

    " The Good Soldier: A Tale of Tedium. It takes a heck of a writer to make adultery boring, so hats off to you Ford Maddox Ford. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 7/28/2013

    " Beautifully written, with an excellent command of first person narrative and the ability to quickly reveal plot but slowly reveal details and motives. It felt a little too long and perhaps a touch melodramatic, but very moving. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kay Marie | 6/10/2013

    " i found the story to be a bit confusing and jumbled but i think in yhe end i got the gist of it. two couples. one with a constantly cheating husband. the other a man oblivous to his cheating wife. death and meddling "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 BookAddict | 4/19/2013

    " This book was stunning. I loved it. Its quite a classy tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenn | 4/6/2013

    " I'm still reading it, so no opinion at this time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Andrew David | 4/2/2013

    " Why would someone read this and think, "This was worth my time"? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexandre Passos | 3/7/2013

    " Interesting read, but overrated by the usual comments about its historical importance. It's an interesting tale of corruption and sadness and deceit, but the actual story is too far from credible to be good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steph | 11/20/2012

    " Oh, it's been a long time since I read this. I was in college, and Ford was new to me. I don't remember a lot about the storyline, but I do remember that I was floored. It was elegant and explosive. I should read it again and remind myself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 George | 11/8/2012

    " A very cleverly written story that held my interest. A very sad tale where no one seems to achieve a level of satisfaction with their life. The book is worth reading for the original style of writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ken Zahrt | 10/22/2012

    " An interesting piece of modernist/early postmodernist British fiction, but if you die without reading it, you'll be ok. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny.p | 10/21/2012

    " A boring story brillantly written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pamela | 7/22/2012

    " 3 1/2 stars Topic is toxic relationships, complexities and torment (not about militaty). Set in early 1900's in Europe. Glad I read it but not a delight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miranda Carbaugh | 6/27/2012

    " It took me awhile to understand everything that the writer inferred, but once I did I thought the book was wonderfully ironic. I have not read many novels with an inaccurate narrarator, but overally I really enjoyed reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam Lowber | 5/8/2012

    " Highly recommended! Loved this book. I was working as a test writer at the time, and I thought I'd look through this book for sample reading passages. I simply couldn't put it down. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Benjamin Kahn | 3/30/2012

    " I was very disappointed in this book. I had high expectations and I felt the book let me down. The characters were unsympathetic and failed to engage me. I especially found the ending of the book to be a little overwrought. This is not a book that I would recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janelle V. | 3/24/2012

    " A technical masterpiece. My greatest joy in reading the book was in analyzing Ford's narrative technique. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose Gowen | 2/20/2012

    " Not a war novel after all (not that kind, anyhow). For years, I assumed it was about WWI. No, it is about marriage, and it is horrifying and excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Jean | 1/19/2012

    " For a novel in first person, this one is technically flawless. He uses all the digressions, the asides, the manner of an individual's speech at his disposal. He confounds and undermines. He tells a very frustrating, very sad story, very very well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andra | 11/8/2011

    " Great Modernist book. It makes you question the narrator and his point of view. You can't always trust the narrator when reading a story, this can especially be seen in books of the British Modern Era. This also displays other difficult themes of British Modern Literature "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Denali | 10/26/2011

    " I read this in high school. I don't remember as much of it as I thought...plus I think a lot of it went over my head at the time. This time around I couldn't quite get into it. I'm not sure why. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Francis | 9/29/2011

    " A passionate story told by a passionless narrator. A sad story told without emotion. A cast of characters without a hero. Death without remorse. And yet somehow, it succeeds.
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Davechri | 9/25/2011

    " Honestly, I thought this book might be a parody until I got about 80% of the way through, then I realized that the joke was on me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 9/17/2011

    " Took a bit for me to get my sea legs, then it was rough, blindsided by waves, and ultimately made it to shore. Will likely take another dip. Oh, wait, I'm talking about a vacation to the beach... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 9/13/2011

    " Read this one a while ago. Came across it while cleaning out my bookshelf. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara | 9/8/2011

    " Better than I expected! Part mystery, part study of morals. Sometimes funny, sometimes uncomfortable.

    Very Masterpiece Theater. I imagined Jeremy Irons' voice telling the story and Helena Bonham Carter and various other British acting greats in the roles of the key (zany) characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy | 9/8/2011

    " I read this in University, and would probably not have picked it up to read otherwise. I found it a slow read at best. I do, however, intend to give it a go again - it's harder to enjoy a novel like this when you only have two weeks to read it.

    Will post again, once I read it correctly! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracey Sinclair | 8/21/2011

    " I loved this: subtle, moving and affecting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emma | 8/16/2011

    " A very frank traumatic novel, using the interesting Modernist technique of flashbacks and fracturing time in order to rearrange events into an non-chronological order. Be patient with it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Debbie | 8/9/2011

    " This book did absolutely nothing for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margot Jennifer | 7/17/2011

    " Really good book but terribly sad story. No one wins. Marriages fail. People betray themselves and others. Some just sit and let it all happen. Sad. Sad. Sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miranda Carbaugh | 7/17/2011

    " It took me awhile to understand everything that the writer inferred, but once I did I thought the book was wonderfully ironic. I have not read many novels with an inaccurate narrarator, but overally I really enjoyed reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Waylonia | 6/1/2011

    " Feels old-fashioned in content and style, especially at first (and could be a bit hard to take), but it's a complex weave of plot and character that ravels and unravels bit by bit--and ultimately the characters hold strong and stick with you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alfredo | 5/21/2011

    " A perfect French novel written in English: an acute study of marriage, infidelity, loneliness, deceit, desire, catholic vs protestant ethos... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielroffle | 5/14/2011

    " Madness and relationships as seen through the filter of an unreliable narrator. This book gets overhyped a bit, but it's a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karenbike | 4/17/2011

    " Another story about two dysfunctional couples pre-WWI who have lots of money and only need to carry on love affairs. But, that said, this is a wonderful study of one man trying to to understand, and describe, another man and the impact "The Good Soldier" had on other lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tony | 4/13/2011

    " Would've been nice had it come anywhere close to living up to that first sentence (Ford definitely made it tough on himself with that one). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ke | 4/9/2011

    " This seems to be homoerotic. I think he doesn't treat women that well. There is nice images, but ideologically he seems like the narrator of On the Road. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 3/31/2011

    " Holding off on my opinion... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Andrew | 3/27/2011

    " Why would someone read this and think, "This was worth my time"? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 3/27/2011

    " Some really pretty sentences. A depressing and well-written novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 2/24/2011

    " You know, I know I will have to defend this one at the reading group, but I enjoyed it. I can't say I understood it or even liked it, but I interacted with it more than i have done with a novel in a while. the unreliable narrator was kind of fun. "

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About the Author
Author Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford (1873–1939) was a novelist, poet, literary critic, editor, and one of the founding fathers of English Modernism. He published over seventy books in his lifetime, perhaps most famously The Good Soldier. His books often centered on the conflict between traditional British values and those of the modern industrial society.

About the Narrator

Gildart Jackson’s acting credits span the stage and screen. He is most often recognized for his roles as Gideon on Charmed and Simon Prentiss on General Hospital. He has also starred in numerous television shows, including CSI and Vegas, and he played the lead in the highly acclaimed independent feature film You, directed by his wife, Melora Hardin.