"I know nothing - nothing in the world - of the hearts of men. I only know that I am alone - horribly alone."
The "good soldier" of the title is the retired Indian army veteran Captain Ashburnham, who, with his wife Leonora, forms an apparently normal friendship with two Americans, John and Florence Dowell.
The apparent perfection of these two marriages quickly unravels. Dowell's steady unfolding of this "saddest story", in a series of flashbacks, exposes not only his wife's infidelity with "the good soldier" but also his own blind folly in not recognising the truth about his empty and loveless marriage.
The first part of Dowell's narration reaches its terrible climax with his wife Florence's suicide over her lover's betrayal.
"Ford Madox Ford's personal life was deeply complicated, made worse by his own indecision and economy with the truth. No wonder unreliability, shifting identities and the turmoils of love and sex are the hallmarks of his greatest novel."- Julian Barnes