Tom Jones (by Henry Fielding) c. 1749

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
c. 1749
[Adult Fiction]

Widely considered to be Fielding’s greatest work, Tom Jones chronicles the life and adventures of a foundling brought up by a wealthy country gentleman.

It might be more accurate to call Tom Jones a collection of essays on novel writing rather than a true novel. The characters are secondary to Fielding’s narration–they seem to exist solely to prove his various points. The resulting book is interesting and often very funny, but there is a significant emotional detachment between the reader and the characters. I found this disconnect frustrating and thought it made the book somewhat less compelling.

Tom Jones is a good book for readers who are interested in the development of the English novel. I would also recommend reading this novel in conjunction with some sort of discussion group, as it is rather dense and can also provoke some interesting discussion.

If you like Tom Jones, I would recommend trying Don Quixote next. Although it is written in a similar episodic style, I find Don Quixote to be a more entertaining and thought-provoking novel. I would also recommend Don Quixote for readers who dislike Tom Jones, but are looking for an older novel with a more compelling story.

Pros: Fielding is very clever and often adept at building suspense.

Cons: Fielding does not work to build any kind of relationship between the reader and the character. As a result, it’s difficult to care about them or the story.

Review by Martha


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