Groudbreaking English novel about infidelity.
This is a rambling story of two wealthy couples (one English and one American) in pre-WWI times...story take place mainly in Europe. Besides having digressions (especially in the first third of novel), the author goes back and forth in time causing some confusion. The strength of the novel lies in the character development and the exposure of marital dynamics of the two couples.
Modern readers may have trouble relating to the characters since the culture there and then is so different from today. As an aside, the author makes numerous comments about Roman Catholics - mainly negative.
Not an upbeat novel...in fact depressing.
Some critics have rated this novel as one of the top 100 of the 20th century. I'm not so sure it deserves that much praise.
If you ever think, "what happened to the days when people had morals," or you wonder if we've made progress in relationships, this book will make you wonder how anyone ever stayed married. At least how any rich, idle people stayed married. Very interesting. I'm sure it will stay with me. I'm glad I read it.
What begins as a discussion about friendship between two couples, one English and one American, turns into a discourse about life. The story is told by John Dowell, the American husband. He admires his good friend, Edward Ashburnham. Edward has a big heart, is a spendthrift, loves women and cherishes friends. The only one he doesn't seem to love is his wife, Leonora, who loves Edward but doesn't know how to express her love. Dowell tells the story as an observer, putting his own spin on the information and conversations he to which he is privileged. He is the last to learn that his own wife, Florence, has become a mistress to his best friend. For twelve long years John took care of Florence who pretended to have a heart condition so serious that the marriage was never consumated. When she believes that Edward is unfaithful to her, Florence commits suicide. The tale continues to its tragic end leaving John taking care of Nancy, a beautiful young woman who lived with Edward and Leonora from the age of 13. She was the last of Edward's loves but he chose to refrain from taking her as his lover and he, too, commits suicide. Yes, this review has spoilers but there is so much to this novel that I have not shared. This is only the barest skeleton of the story. Ford gives the reader much to consider and to reflect upon.