Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Vicar of SLEEPfield

Today I'm reviewing a book I unearthed while delving into the depths of the 250 or so books on my well-loved kindle in an attempt to make some headway in  the seemingly impossible task of ever reading them all. And this is what I came up with:

The Vicar of Wakefield

Image sourced from goodreads

I can't think where on earth I got the urge to download this one from... I vaguely remember reading something else where it was referenced a lot and going to download it from (I love you internet). If anyone can enlighten me as to which book has frequent references to this one, be my guest!*


Oliver Goldsmith


Er... Well, wikipedia suggests 'comedy, satire' while I've also seen it in the 'children's' genre on some websites. Not sure I agree with that, but it's all I've got for now!

One-sentence summary:

The eponymous vicar and his family lose all their wealth and are forced to move, whereupon they come up against many unscrupulous characters and disastrous circumstances.


As you may well have already guessed from the terrible not-quite-punny title (sorry not sorry), this was not my favourite book in the world. I was informed by many a goodreads review that it's supposed to be satirical, but I can't say I picked up on any of the clues. Perhaps it just hasn't aged well. I found the writing to be pretty readable, though nothing special compared to other books of the period, and at times it was rather bland. I often found myself re-reading passages to make sure what was going on, as there were sometimes particularly significant events hidden amongst the rambling. Not to mention the numerous debates/monologues/gratuitous ramblings about politics, religion, and the rich that I ended up having to skim through.

The main character also got on my nerves with his never-admit-I'm-wrong attitude and unwavering piety. It's just not realistic! Christian or not, no one is that virtuous in their own strength, and it irritated me no end. At least have some sort of internal struggle! Grr... *deep calming breaths*

Anyway, despite all that, I didn't hate this book. Though I did experience the slight urge to tear my hair out as more and more ridiculous (and infuriating) mishaps and calamities and 'mortifications' piled up against the long suffering vicar and his family during the story, I couldn't helping liking and rooting for them in spite of myself.

I also love older books, simply because they give us such an important insight into attitudes and lifestyles that are foreign to our own, while allowing us to glimpse our familiar human traits beneath. And I have to admit, this book did have some suction power, as I impatiently ploughed through it in the hope of a happy ending. (Spoiler alert: there is one! Though it's pretty improbable... Maybe that's the satire..?)

Final thoughts:

I didn't quite connect with this book, and certainly didn't experience any of the 'laugh-out-loud comedy' elements that some reviewers managed to excavate from it. I did find myself rooting for the characters though, especially the vicar, though I also found him severely irritating. Basically, this book is a modern (ish) retelling of the story of Job, though at least Job had a believable reaction to his suffering. 

Sooo, for those reasons this book's getting:

*Just remembered... Little Women! Wow I must've had this book a while, I haven't read that in aaages!

Any thoughts on The Vicar of Wakefield? Did ANYONE get the satire? Let me know in the comments.

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