Book Reviews for October 2012

Parades End
Ford Madox Ford
BBC Books
£7.99 less £1
Having suffered from amnesia, and for a time fearing he would be unable to write, Ford Madox Ford spent six years working on what was to become his epic portrait of the age. Parade’s End. It draws on the frailties of the human mind, composed of fragments of memory and impression, that mirrored the psychological disorder that he felt and that he saw as an affliction of his generation.

Republished to coincide with the new BBC adaptation, the novel presents a startling vision of a paradise lost, of a social and moral order in turmoil, with the war as merely a symptom of a wider, chronic malaise. While its radical, abstract technique was de rigueur with the young modernists, the novel has the scope, drama and social conviction of a 19th-century English novel. It also has a classic hero, Christopher Tietjens is the last gentlemen in an England going to the dogs, facing enemies at home and abroad, an anachronism clinging to noble ideals in an age of hypocrisy and materialism.
Fervently acclaimed over the years by writers and critics but never widely read, Ford’s neurotic vision of civilisation on the brink intensely evokes the tumult of the period.

The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson
Published by Harbour
£8.99 less £1
A fictional book which follows the adventures and misadventures of its protagonist, this book is a hilarious and enjoyable romp through the 20th Century, one that doesn’t take itself seriously.
Allan Karlsson’s health is good, so good that to his dismay he is facing the horrors of putting up appearances for this 100th birthday. Leaving the mayor, the press, his friends and the bane of his existence, the nurse, behind, he escapes moments before the big celebration. When a young man asks Allan to keep an eye on his suitcase at the train station, the centenarian steals it and gets the ball rolling on a month-long chase
involving the police, the underworld, and a handful of accomplices.
Parallel to the escape, Allan’s long life is revealed to the reader. As it turns out, Allan is not just an old man with a suitcase, but one of the most
influential persons to ever walk the face of the earth in the 20th Century. Alas, through the comedy of life, Allan is only remembered for his age.
This book appears to be influenced by Forrest Gump and/or Woody Allen’s Zelig. Allan Karlsson is the eternal optimist, half way through the book it is clear that nothing will happen to him, but it is how he gets out of trouble and his unbelievable luck and improbable coincidences which makes the book so entertaining and endearing.

Beautiful Disaster
Jamie McGuire
Published by Simon & Schuster
£7.99 less £1
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s walking one-night stand. Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs and wants to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.