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?