Context: Listened to this on a 14-hour hike from hell through some of the steepest mountains I’ve yet seen in Papua New Guinea.
If you’re looking for a sentimental feel-good tale where everything that goes wrong in the first half of the book is resolved to everyone’s delight in the second half, this is the book for you. I wasn’t.
Like many books I find laborious to wade through on the 1001 list, I’m not allowed to give this as low a rating as I would have done before I changed to my new rating system. Why? Because although I didn’t enjoy the book for itself, I have to acknowledge its influence as one of the first of its type.
Embedded in Vicar are all the elements that would influence Austen, Eliot, the Brontes and Dickens. I’ll be the first to admit that they did it better than Goldsmith but he gets the credit due him for coming up with so many of the ideas they would later develop.
The novel is the story of a guy who calls himself a vicar but obviously cares more about his place is society than his place in heaven. His family go through various crises which, from this vantage point in literary history, are all too predictable. And, just as predictably if you’re into Austen or Disney, everything turns out fine in the end.
I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m glad I read it. Now at least I know who to blame.
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