But from there on in it is an absolute masterwork.
|You Tory genius you!|
It is actually a service that I have seen the HBO miniseries first. The brilliant playwright, Tom Stoppard, has put, in his adaptation for the miniseries, everything in chronological order, whilst still maintaing Ford's faintly surreal, stream of consciousness method of writing, wherein major plot points are ever so barely alluded to, and then forgotten about for scores of pages or so.
Ford's style for these novels is one I am so envious of. Perhaps I could write like this. But it is a style so dedicated to precision and discipline that I fear I would not have the muster.
Each roman numeral part of a major section of each novel is dedicated to describing just one short period of time in the current day of the characters involved. And, then spinning off in to the memory and recollection of each of those characters, forgetting timelines, jutting back and forth, dropping clues forward in time that mean something later (flash forwards! In the Twenties, dangit!) The style envelops you and sucks you in. Refreshes you, leaves you wanting more.
And, then there is the language. Strictly, majestically colloquial in dialect, dialogue and prose, yet sumptuous in descriptions of garments, furniture, makeup, landscapes, dales, etc, ... Ford seems to straddle to the greatest effect the worlds between the Victorian novel, and Hemingway or Fitzgerald.
My favorite character so far is the General, though Sylvia is a close second (she just does not give a farthing what anybody thinks or says about her, a supreme contrast to her last Tory husband, who thinks he is like her, but cowers along behind, always doing the right thing, "Yes, Dear.")
The General is so officious, and correct, and indignant, and loud, and well-spoken, and circumspect, and so wrong about every single thing.
(The Wife picked up on this fabulous creation of Ford's while watching episode four of the miniseries, perhaps my favorite. Episode four was the Apocalypse Now of Parade's End, the episode that best illustrated the surreal madness of stupid wars, i.e. all wars.)
Just fantastic rich stuff, this thick little paperback.
I wonder what Pynchon thinks of these novels, and Ford.
Stoppard, and the Beeb, and HBO, and Cumberbatch, and Hall, have all done us a great service here.
It will be exciting to see how many people on the subway trains, buses, coffee shops, and elsewhere are taking up the book like Nick C and I are. (Nick just got his copy on his kindle app on his iPad. Cool. He is up to page twenty something, just started.)