The Final Chapter of Tom Jones.

This was part of an ongoing project in which I recorded and posted one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

I hadn't read the ending of Tom Jones in maybe ten years. I think I was influenced more by the two screen adaptations (the movie starring Albert Finney and the more recent BBC miniseries). The way I remembered it, Sophia tells Tom that the only means by which he'll regain her trust is "Time," and then it's implied that some amount of time passes and Tom finally earns her trust again, and then they get married.

The actual ending, though, is much more problematic. Sophia tells Tom that it will take "time" all right, but then her father bursts into the room, and forces her to marry Tom the very next day. Yes, there is some epilogue-ish material at the end of the chapter that says that Tom and Sophia are both happy in marriage and that they have two kids, but I can't help but feel that Squire Western wins in overcoming Sophia's insistence on marrying on her own terms. A more optimistic interpretation would have Sophia giving in because it's Tom, but her wishes are still pointedly ignored both by her father and by Tom in the end.

When I started this project four years ago, I wasn't sure how long I would stick to it. I mostly started it as a means of a) learning how to record in my home studio and b) maintaining practice in recording for those times when I didn't have a professional audiobook to record. Frankly, I'm amazed at my own discipline, managing to (as far as I know) get one chapter out every week, including weeks with a hurricane, a wedding, a twenty day honeymoon in Japan and just life in general, in between recording, at a rough guess, 40 other books in my home studio.

I have some ideas about what to do next in this format, but for now I'm going to take a break, without the pressure of realizing it's Friday and I still haven't recorded my chapter for the week yet.

I hope that you, dear listener, get some modicum of joy from this weird project I undertook, and I hope I've learned something about myself as a performer in these intervening years.

AuthorMark Turetsky