Tom Jones, a foundling, is brought up by the kindly Mr. Allworthy as if he were his own son. Forced to leave the house as a young man after tales of his disgraceful behavior reach his benefactor's ears, he sets out in utter despair, not only because of his banishment but because he has now lost all hope of gaining the hand of the beautiful Sophia. But she too is forced to flee her parental home to escape an undesirable marriage and their stories and adventures intertwine.
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Public Domain (P)2013 Naxos AudioBooks
Warning, if you like a very slow delicious story to unfold over a really long period, you will relish this book. If you find that slow and boring, you will hate it. The only rapid part came about 2 hours before the end, when suddenly all loose ends were tied up, and you had to wrack your brain to remember 40 hours previously, who was Jenny Jones? Did Mr Allworthy even have a sister?
I did not like this story. Not the speed, I love classic literature and the way of writing. The problem was the story spent about 30 hours persecuting a rather insipid girl into marrying someone she didn't like, because he had a lot of money. This is so foreign to a modern audience who would not believe that a father loved his daughter, whilst trying to make her thoroughly miserable.
Tom himself does not appeal to me as any kind of character a girl would like. He may have a good heart, but he is foolish and makes stupid mistakes at every turn, mostly due to sleeping with every woman he can find whilst claiming to love Sophia. What kind of love is that? The men are patted on the back for conquests, the women who do the same are whores. Not a good read for a modern girl.
I ended up feeling sorry for Blifell. Not highly recommended.
"terrific story BUT"
even the great w. somerset maugham could, on occasion, bore you to distraction, so his reaction to tom jones -- the book, the classic, not the singer, who came much later -- is of little consequence. he found the book unreadable, boring.
well, the truth is that there's a great deal of utter waffle in this book, which could have been cut, snipped, abbreviated with no ill effect to the story, and in fact maugham did just that. as editor of a series of classic books he shortened tom jones and created a totally readable, totally delightful, version that could be appreciated by any mid-20th century reader.
i find maugham's edited version quite satisfactory, and a delight to read. and maugham's version is only fielding's own version, as edited by a regular modern editor. any other editor today would have done the same, if this had been a manuscript submitted by a modern writer.
so listening to a reading of the original version, with its overgrowth of diversions, digressions, and latin quotes is somewhat distracting. it's easy to lose the story, or the progress of the tale, and even in maugham's shortened edition there comes the point -- roughly around page 260 -- where the story finally grinds to a halt.
but carry on, the book ends gloriously and you would wish that it could continue for ever on. this is a classic, after all.
so my recommendation would be to read the book in some form, study notes, see the movie, read the novel or the maugham version, and THEN get down to the audible version. a great reader. but it took me to around book three or 15 per cent of the text, before i could finally get into the story and the language -- and this, despite having read the book and some secondary material about it. perhaps reading the printed book alongside listening to the audio format may provide a help in finding an easier and faster access to the author's circuitous style.
if you find the book inaccessible, worry not. you've got w. somerset maugham on your side. or try to find a copy of his shortened version. it is by no means a "simplified" or "reader's digest" edition. it's simply a book for modern readers.
Kudos to the narrator. Each character is carved out with diamond precision. Great story. Great narration.
"More than you think it is"
The movie is good, but it cannot capture the wonderful insights and delightful language in Fielding's writing. The characters are fine representatives of country life both above and below stairs. And the narrator is one of the very best. All in all, this is a listen you'll love.
The narration is marred by many character voices that are difficult to listen to, especially a strained falsetto used for lower-class women. As there are many long monologues, this becomes extremely irritating, especially in such a long book.
Tom Jones is of course a milestone early novel, and on the whole enjoyable. I must admit though that I do find the prose style often long-winded, making it less than ideal for audio, where skimming is impossible.
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