Top positive review
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An amazing read
on December 20, 2011
Published in 1903 (but written in the 1870s), this book is ranked 12th on the Modern Library list of 100 Best English Language novels of the 20th Century -- and it is quite good.
If you love big sprawling novels you can get lost in, you will enjoy this book. Spanning multiple generations, it is the tale of the Pontifex family, but focused mostly on the unlucky Ernest Pontifex. Hampered by a set of hypocritical and nasty parents, Ernest spends the first part of his life stumbling from mistake to mistake. It's handled in a witty way that makes it a comical tragedy. Butler was a very talented writer -- not only does he create wonderful characters, he brings their world to life and make you care about things like "high" versus "low" church debates. The narrator's voice is dry and enjoyable -- the book is packed with magnificent one-liners and well-phrased observations. Butler has a point to make about how parents treat children and the best way to grow to full maturity, but he doesn't neglect his story to make it.
As far as formatting, the Kindle version has pretty standard formatting. You don't have lots of white space between chapters (do you really need this to enjoy a book?) and you don't have a active table of contents -- but these aren't standard for free classics anyway. What you get is a free classic in a format that is perfectly readable with virtually no errors.