Tom Jones

by Henry Fielding

In Brief

The travails of Tom and his darling Sophia, doomed to be separated by the rigid niceties of social class and inheritance. They’re two of the most gorgeous, charming and delightful young people in the world, yet everyone with the power to do so is determined to keep them apart. Tom is thrown out of his home and makes his riotous way to London, while Sophia, escaping a ghastly marriage, happens to dash in much the same direction. As they make their separate journeys, they meet all manner of people along the way, from gypsies and gossipy landladies to wayward women, soldiers and puppeteers. This being a rather old-fashioned book, with no pretensions to brevity, we hear the stories of them all, and find them deeply interwoven with the fate of our impetuous young hero and his lovely Sophia.

Why you should read it

Tom Jones is a fabulous soap opera of a book. It’s jam-packed with beautiful people, sex (loads), gossip, back-stabbing, villainy, bizarre coincidences, forbidden love and fisticuffs. It paints a vivid and highly entertaining picture of England in 1745, and of a young man determined to win the hand of his love, despite the obstacles created by wars, wanton women, and wicked aunts. Its pages are lit up by an enormous cast of wonderfully eccentric supporting characters, each of whom add a piece to the puzzle and keep you guessing to the end. It’s fresh, funny and decidedly racy. You’ll find yourself rooting for Tom, forgiving his (multiple) indiscretions, and wondering how on earth things can end well… but knowing somehow that they will.

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