Literature / Parade's End

Parade's End is the omnibus name for a historical tetrology by Ford Maddox Ford about life before, during and after World War I. The novels revolve around "the last Tory", Christopher Tietjens, a statistician from a wealthy, upper-class family who serves in the British Army, and his disastrous marriage.

The books in the series are:
  • Some Do Not... (1924)
  • No More Parades (1925)
  • A Man Could Stand Up— (1926)
  • Last Post (1928)

It was adapted by Tom Stoppard as a BBC2 miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens, Rebecca Hall as his wife Sylvia, and Adelaide Clemens as Valentine.

Contains Examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Mini Series misses out the last book (set following the war).
  • Actor Allusion: Christopher telling General Campion, "I am in command" is very similar to a line between the same actors in radio comedy Cabin Pressure, although this may be a coincidence.
  • Betty and Veronica: Valentine and Sylvia. While personality-wise they're certainly Betty and Veronica respectively, the fact that Christopher is married to Sylvia makes Valentine the "dangerous" choice.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sylvia is this to General Campion by the end. Although Sylvia is this to pretty much everyone in general.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the book. Christopher and Valentine are able to finally live together in peace and Sylvia has a change of heart, but Mark passes away at the very end. The TV series is a more straightforward happy ending.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how!
  • The Edwardian Era
  • Fiery Redhead: Sylvia.
  • General Failure: The British military command is seen as this by Christopher and, to some extent, Campion.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: YMMV as to which relationships "Good" and "Bad" apply to.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Christopher and Valentine, in contrast with cynical and selfish Fiery Redhead Sylvia.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Christopher and Valentine.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Sylvia uses this successfully on every male she wants to, except it doesn't work on Christopher. There's some suggestion that she loves him partly because of this, although it's also a major frustration.
  • Karma Houdini: In the miniseries, not so much the book: Although Sylvia doesn't end up with Christopher as she originally wanted, she doesn't wind up any worse off at the end, despite her bad behavior - the miniseries leaves it hanging whether Campion will accept her marriage proposal, although in the script he does deny her.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Christopher's employer expects him to fudge the numbers to help their political allies. Christopher's not happy about it.
  • Love at First Sight: Valentine and Christopher both declare that they fell in love "from the first moment."
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Leads to Sylvia and Christopher's Shotgun Wedding.
  • Manly Tears
  • Meaningful Name: Valentine, Christopher's true love.
  • Modern Major General: most of the army officers except for Christopher. Especially Captain McKechnie.
  • Moment Killer: When Christopher is in Sylvia's hotel room in Rouen and Potty tries to barge in.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Christopher and McKechnie with their sonnet competition.
  • Only Sane Man: Christopher can come across as this, given the hypocrisy of just about every other character.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Christopher puts up with Sylvia's cheating and verbal abuse for years until she has the Groby tree cut down, via Mrs. de Bray Pape in the book.
  • Rags to Riches: McMaster is very conscious of the difference between his own background and his friend Christopher's upper class privilege.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Christopher suffers memory lapses after a head injury in the war.
  • Shotgun Wedding
  • Spirited Young Lady: Valentine.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Christopher is considered an extreme example even by other Edwardians. The scene where he learns of his mother's death is a masterclass.
  • The Hero: Christopher, unlike other war novels, the story focuses more Christopher's moral and psychological growth not really on the war even through he's part of it.
  • Tragic Hero: Christopher. Mercifully averted in the end.
  • Unfortunate Names: Potty. It seems even worse to a modern audience, but even in the period in which the book was set, "potty" meant crazy or insignificant; the adjective is used this way in the book in several places.
  • Unrequited Tragic Maiden: Valentine is in love with Christopher, but he refuses to go against his morals and cheat on his wife with her until near the end.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Potty Perowne.
  • The Vicar: Reverend Duchemin comes across as the Dirty variety with his ranting about corsets and organs.
  • War Is Hell: Ford wrote the novel after his own experiences in World War I and he doesn't pull any punches, nor does the miniseries.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: The paternity of Sylvia's child is unclear.
  • World War One
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Inverted when Sylvia's boyfriend, Potty, is scared that Christopher will beat him up, and Sylvia tells Potty he needn't worry because "[Christopher] would not do anything to a girl like you."