Classic Club Spin: A vicar’s tale awaits me


Photo by Krissia Cruz on Unsplash

The wheel has spun in the 19th round of the Classic Club Spin.  It landed on number 1 which means I will be reading The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith. Published in 1766, this is the oldest book remaining from my Classics Club list. 

This is in fact the second time this book has been selected in a Classics Club spin. It was the book I was meant to read in April 2015 but I never got around to it for reasons I can no longer remember.

It’s about a vicar (no surprises there) and his family of six children who live an idyllic life in a country parish until he loses all his money. They are forced to move to a new and more humble parish. What ensues is a series of set backs and calamities including fire, abduction and imprisonment before order is once more restored.

Narrated by Dr Charles Primrose (the vicar) in 32 chapters, the novel begins:

I was ever of the opinion, that the honest man who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and only talked of population. 

It’s on my list because it was one of the most popular and widely read of 18th-century novels in Britain.  Encyclopaedia Britannica says the novel’s idealization of rural life, sentimental moralizing, and melodramatic incidents are countered by a sharp but good-natured irony. I was relieved to discover that the tone was ironic because I feared it would be just  ‘comic’, a style which I don’t particularly enjoy.

Have any of you read this? If so, what was your impression? Am I in for an enjoyable read or a bit of a so-so experience?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on November 28, 2018, in Classics Club and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Karen, I have never heard of The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, but I do rather like the sound of it so I really hope you will enjoy it!

  2. I read this a couple of years ago and remember being in two minds about it. The vicar’s story can be compared to the life of Job, with all the disasters that befall him and his family (I loved these particular chapters !). You can choose to read it as a sentimental novel, a moral tale, or as a satire of these two genres. The end, of course is typical of 18th century novels and is best read as a satire ! Looking forward to reading your review of it.

  3. I haven’t read it, but its one of those titles that has floated around in my mind as being of great importance. The first line sounds like a set-up for a Jane Austen romcom.

  4. I haven’t read it but I have heard of it and the title intrigues me. Can’t wait to hear your impressions of it.

  5. Oooh, an older one! I’ve never read it so shall read your thoughts with interest! 🙂

  6. I’ve only read this once, and years ago, but from what I remember it’s a *tiny* bit tedious. Still, possibly I wasn’t on the alert for the irony at the time!

  7. An unknown quantity, I’m afraid. I’ve loved my life in English Language studies, but I do sometimes regret what I missed out on by not doing an English Lit. Degree.

  8. I haven’t read it but it seems to be a book you often see copies of in second-hand bookshops, I guess because of its popularity at the time. The spin Gods clearly want you to read it so I hope you enjoy it. I got a fairly short book, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, so even I should be able to fit in reading that by the end of January!

  9. This sounds as though it should be quite a good read if it was that popular back in its day! Good luck especially as it is the second time it has come up on the spin – it was meant to be!

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