Group Read: The Forsyte Saga

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Group Read: The Forsyte Saga

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Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2018, 12:32pm

Welcome to the Year Long read of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

The "Saga" is the first three books in the series and two interludes.

The Man of Property (1906)
"Indian Summer of a Forsyte" (1918)
In Chancery (1920)
"Awakening" (1920)
To Let (1921)

Some volumes exclude the interludes. There are more novels in the series and more interludes as well. The entire collection is known as The Forsyte Chronicles. For our purposes we will focus on the Saga novels, but if anyone is planning to tackle the entire collection, then Welcome!

The Saga is included in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.

Jan. 1, 2018, 1:36pm

I finished The Forsyte Saga a couple of years ago and I've not decided yet if I want to reread it right away. However, I will definitely be following the discussion here. Also, I've been meaning to continue with the 4th novel in The Forsyte Chronicles, so I'm hoping this group read will give me the motivation to do so. Perhaps I'll start that later in the year, after some of you have worked through the Saga, and maybe there will be others interested in joining me.

Jan. 2, 2018, 3:09am

This is the 3rd year in a row I've listed The Forsyte Saga in my category challenges. I hope this group read will be incentive to actually get to it this year.
Maybe I'll even be on a roll and get to the second trilogy, A Modern Comedy. :)

Jan. 3, 2018, 9:13pm

I started A Man of Property and I'm absolutely entranced. I haven't read The Forsyte Saga for years and I'd forgotten how good it is. I'm sort of surprised at how quickly it is moving along.

My copy has the three books and two interludes although I'm planning on spreading it out to one book per month - though that might not work out considering how much I'm enjoying it.

I know some people think Soames got what he deserved, but I've always felt sorry for him. To me, it was Irene's behaviour that was unforgivable. I'd be interested in hearing how others feel.

Jan. 4, 2018, 3:27pm

Thanks for setting up the thread, Ro. I am intending to read the three books and the two interludes over the course of the year, and I am hoping not to fall behind since I can't control myself and have joined too many challenges! I am hoping to start reading in a week or so.

Jan. 4, 2018, 4:03pm

My version is in three large paperbacks from about 1970 and contain the interludes. I've gotten a little way into The Man of Property but expect to read this slowly, in between other things. This version does have a handy family tree which is helpful.

This is actually a reread but after decades I remember almost nothing about the story.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:47am

My thanks too to Roberta for suggesting The Forsyte Saga and setting up the thread.

>6 hailelib: As I've said it's a re-read for me too but I find I'm enjoying it even more because as I am reading any particular storyline I'm also remembering future related events.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:28pm

I am a chapter in and liking it so far but man, there are a lot of people being introduced. It will be fun trying to keep everyone sorted out along the way.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:37pm

>2 mathgirl40: & >3 madhatter22: I'm glad both of you are interested in continuing the Forstye books past the Saga. I do hope you will comment here if you do. I really want to know whether it's something I should tackle at some point.

>4 VivienneR: Thanks for rereading and joining us. I've not read the books, but I had almost the same feeling with the BBC miniseries. I know it was very heavily skewed to Irene, more than the books as I understand, but it did not make me more sympathetic to her. It will be interesting to read the books and compare.

>5 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for joining us Judy. We can check this one off our 1001 books list this year. ;-)

>6 hailelib: Thanks for mentioning the family tree. I found a copy online and posted it up top.

>7 VivienneR: My pleasure and again, I'm glad you are joining us.

>8 Yells: Welcome. I've posted the family tree in post #1. Hope it helps some.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:38pm

Just to recap, I've posted the Forsyte family tree in >1 luvamystery65: to help us keep up with the various family members.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:39pm

>10 luvamystery65: that's really helpful. I have this on order from the library, although I think it omits the interludes. I will see how I get on...

Jan. 5, 2018, 2:49pm

A family tree! Excellent!

Jan. 5, 2018, 5:19pm

I loved this book. I may or may not join in the re-read but I will be following the thread to see whatever one else thinks about it.

Jan. 5, 2018, 7:17pm

A family tree is definitely helpful - thanks for posting!

Jan. 6, 2018, 12:40am

Count me in and thank you Roberta for suggesting the group read and posting the family tree!

Jan. 6, 2018, 10:54am

>11 Helenliz: >12 VivienneR: >14 Yells: Thanks to Tricia for mentioning the family tree in >6 hailelib:

>13 ALWINN: Glad to have you join us for discussion.

>15 lkernagh: Lori I'm so happy you are joining us.

Jan. 15, 2018, 6:40pm

Anyone started? I just finished book one and like it so far.

Jan. 15, 2018, 10:04pm

The next book I start will be A Man of Property. I feel like I have trying to start this since the beginning of the month!

Jan. 16, 2018, 8:52am

I haven't started yet. I'll probably start late next month.

Jan. 16, 2018, 1:06pm

I'm four chapters in, in Book One.

Jan. 16, 2018, 6:16pm

Sick day from work equals lots of reading time at home. I finished In Chancery and Awakenings and am rather eager to continue. I knew from the family tree what Irene's fate would be so it was interesting to see how things played out. I'd love to debate the whole Irene/Soames situation with people.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 16, 2018, 7:21pm

I finished The Man of Property this month and absolutely loved it. I hope to read one book per month, so in February I'll be reading In Chancery and the two interludes.

I found myself definitely on Soames' side and thought Irene came across as more of a gold-digger (marrying Soames for his money) and needed to grow up. As far as I remember she does become more mature but I still think she is very self-centred. Maybe women needed to be in those days.

Jan. 19, 2018, 4:47pm

I finished The Man of Property earlier today. Saving the Interlude for later.

I find Soames and Irene both to blame for their failed marriage. She should have held to her initial refusal but since she didn't Irene should have made a better job of making the marriage work and she definitely should have stayed away from Bosinney. On the other hand, Soames pressured Irene instead of taking no for an answer and then just assumed that Irene would automatically become the wife he wanted. He doesn't seem to have made any real effort to understand her.

Jan. 19, 2018, 5:06pm

I have only read about 6 chapters so far but I am finding both Soames and Irene rather tiresome. I don't think people thought about "working" at their marriage in those days, but both of these people seem to be just letting it fall apart. I struggled a bit through the first couple of chapters when so many characters were introduced but the story has really started to engage me now.

Jan. 19, 2018, 8:58pm

The first time I read it I thought Soames was the bad guy and Irene hard done by. Then I reversed that position. Irene knew exactly what she was getting into but needed to marry someone with money. Soames may have been cold and uncommunicative, but he was like that to everyone (not that that's any excuse!!) but I'm sure she must have noticed the personality trait before they married. I really warmed to Soames much later in the saga when he adored his daughter.

Jan. 20, 2018, 2:39pm

Of course it was remarked upon how Soames actively wooed Irene and wore her down until she accepted, so she may have thought he was much different than he turned out to be. I am probably more on Irene's side right now as I find Soames quite the prig but Irene's character hasn't really been developed up to the point I am in the book (beginning the 9th chapter) so my opinion may change.

Also I think the reader's age and experience have a lot to do with how we perceive various characters and actions. I remember thinking Catherine and Heathcliffe were the most romantic couple when I first read Wutherine Heights as a teenager. On a re-read many years later, I found them both sulky, whining teenagers that I wanted to spank more than admire!

Jan. 24, 2018, 12:45am

I have completed the first volume, A Man of Property and I am very intriged with this saga. I am not particularly enamoured with any of the Forsytes, but the setting and timing is interesting and this family is very representative of the wealthy mercantile class in Victorian society.

Jan. 29, 2018, 7:34pm

I haven't even started a tread yet this year, but I did just find the saga (Oxford World's Classics version pictured above) in a used bookstore here in Durango while on a work trip, so might as well sign me up.

I'll get my thread up in Feb - already a month behind this year!

Jan. 30, 2018, 11:06am

>28 LisaMorr: Glad to have you back on the threads Lisa. Also, glad you found a copy of the book.

Feb. 1, 2018, 9:10pm

I started listening to the audiobook of A Man of Property. Still settling into the story an getting all the characters straight in my mind... that family tree up thread is coming in super handy!

Bearbeitet: Feb. 5, 2018, 4:04pm

I have now finished listening to A Man of Property and the first Interlude, Indian Summer of a Forsyte, which was a nice surprise as I did not expect the interlude to be included in the audiobook A Man of Property. I have to admit I was in Soames court at first, but now I just feel sorry for both Soames and Irene. I think it was a marriage that was just never meant to be. I came to despise Bosinney... he struck me as a bit of an opportunist. The surprise character for me has been Old Jolyon.

Somehow I managed to miss why Philip Bosinney (the architect) is referred to as "The Buccaneer". Is anyone able to enlighten me on that point?

I will now take a break to do some other ROOT/CAT/KIT/Bingo reading and will probably pick this up again in March.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 7, 2018, 1:41pm

I read the interlude Indian Summer of a Forsyte at the beginning of the second book, which I'm still reading. Old Jolyon is one of my favourites of the older generation (and I like Young Jolyon too). Bosinney was so egotistical, he should have had more sense than to make eyes at his client's wife. And if he had stayed within the limits set by Soames, he would have avoided a boatload of trouble.

>31 lkernagh: The Forsytes liked nicknames. It's understandable that the Buccaneer's origin would escape your memory. It was ascribed very early at June's engagement when the reader is still trying to remember all members of the family:

“...a story was undoubtedly told that he had paid his duty call to Aunts Ann, Juley, and Hester, in a soft grey hat - a soft grey hat, not even a new one - a dusty thing with a shapeless crown. "So, extraordinary, my dear - so odd," Aunt Hester, passing through the little, dark hall (she was rather short-sighted), had tried to 'shoo' it off a chair, taking it for a strange, disreputable cat - Tommy had such disgraceful friends! She was disturbed when it did not move.

Like an artist for ever seeking to discover the significant trifle which embodies the whole character of a scene, or place, or person, so those unconscious artists - the Forsytes had fastened by intuition on this hat; it was their significant trifle, the detail in which was embedded the meaning of the whole matter; for each had asked himself: "Come, now, should I have paid that visit in that hat?" and each had answered "No!" and some, with more imagination than others, had added: "It would never have come into my head!"

George, on hearing the story, grinned. The hat had obviously been worn as a practical joke! He himself was a connoisseur of such. "Very haughty!" he said, "the wild Buccaneer."

And this mot, the 'Buccaneer,' was bandied from mouth to mouth, till it became the favourite mode of alluding to Bosinney.”

Bearbeitet: Feb. 7, 2018, 2:06pm

I have finished Indian Summer of a Forsyte (Interlude) and In Chancery.

Just for the enjoyment factor, I had to give this one a half-star lower rating than the five stars I gave to the first book, even though this book concentrates on Old Jolyon's family who were mostly the characters I liked best. It is shocking to read of the divorce laws and realize a married woman was regarded as "owned". Soames doesn't come out well here, but I still don't care much for Irene. The younger generation play a bigger part of the story with the passing of the old generation being portrayed by Queen Victoria's funeral.

Feb. 7, 2018, 4:28pm

I wasn't a fan of either at first but as I progressed into the second book, I really started to like Irene. Her marriage to Soames was a mistake and he treated her like a possession instead of a wife. He was always collecting pretty things (Irene, the new house) but was never happy with any of it. She wasn't perfect by any means but when I think about how little a female had back then, I felt bad for her.

Oddly enough, by the very end of book three, he started to grow on me.

Feb. 8, 2018, 12:27am

I have all three books of A Modern Comedy but they do not include the two interludes, so I searched for them online and found electronic versions of all 9 books and the 4 interludes at If you are interested this is the best place to find them.

Feb. 8, 2018, 12:39am

>34 Yells: Yes, Soames treated Irene like a possession, but in law that's exactly what she was. I believe at that time, most men looked for what is now termed "arm candy" and ignored any other attributes a woman might have. On the other hand, most women from a certain class who were not wealthy took a job as governess or teacher etc., or found themselves a rich husband, which is what Irene did. That's mostly the reason I can't warm to her. Her choices were limited but she knew what she was getting into.

As I've mentioned before, this is a re-read for me. But already I'm looking forward to the next part of the saga that I'll read in March - if I can wait that long.

Feb. 8, 2018, 9:28am

>35 VivienneR: Thanks! I found the next one in the library system but I am not sure if they have all of the remaining books.

>36 VivienneR: Did she really know what she was getting into? I never got the sense that she did (or didn't for that matter) and that is what I struggled with. I will admit, I was married before and it was a rather loveless marriage (I still can't understand why we did it) so that has definitely coloured my view on this book. I see a lot of myself in the Irene character - I am not sure if that makes me more sensitive to things in the novel or makes me blind to her faults.

Feb. 8, 2018, 2:49pm

>37 Yells: Your experience would certainly colour your opinion of Irene. Galsworthy did take liberties with her character. If she was as beautiful and graceful as he makes out, rich men would have been lining up with marriage proposals. But he implies that she had no other choice. Anyway, your story makes me look at her differently.

Mrz. 2, 2018, 9:03pm

Checking in with everyone. I still haven't started myself. This is why I worried to do it year long. I knew I might put it off. I'll report back when I start the first book.

Mrz. 3, 2018, 12:59am

Glad you are still in the running, Roberta. I started the third book, To Let, yesterday - I couldn't wait any longer! Hope to see you soon!

Mrz. 3, 2018, 12:48pm

I wasn't able to fit any of the Forsyte Saga into my February reading but I hope to read the interlude, Indian Summer during March.

Mrz. 3, 2018, 3:04pm

I just finished Part one of the second book.

Mrz. 4, 2018, 4:24pm

Yesterday I finished the final interlude and book, Awakening and To Let in the first trilogy. I'm so looking forward to the next two trilogies that I can hardly wait until next month to begin.

Although Soames is still showing his cold side, somehow he manages to elicit sympathy. It is 1920 and with the death of Timothy, the older generation is gone and the new one is introduced.

My favourite line is from Fleur's wedding ceremony:
“The hymn was over, the prelate had begun to deliver his discourse. He told them of the dangerous times they lived in, and the awful conduct of the House of Lords in connection with divorce. They were all soldiers--he said--in the trenches under the poisonous gas of the Prince of Darkness, and must be manful. The purpose of marriage was children, not mere sinful happiness.”

Mrz. 8, 2018, 1:32pm

I have read the interlude of Indian Summer and it's got me itching to continue on with the next book! I love the way the author is able to totally drop you into the story. I doubt if I will be able to fit in the next book this month but I will be reaching for In Chancery during April.

Mrz. 18, 2018, 8:52pm

I finished The Forsyte Saga earlier this week. A rather compelling read. Always challenging to review a book without disclosing spoilers. I like how Galsworthy has chosen titles that communicate deeper meaning of the stories, and some of the shifts in narration (in particular, the two interludes) was refreshing. While I found some parts to be a bit long-winded, there is no mistaking that Galsworthy has achieved a tour de force with this saga. That being said, I don't know if I will explore the further books that continue the Forsyte family drama. At least, not right away.

Mrz. 31, 2018, 9:36pm

I have finished the 2nd novel, In Chancery and I really enjoyed this one! I am more comfortable with the many characters and the Victorian attitudes. The animosity between Soames and Jolyon brought a lot of tension and excitement to the reading. I can't wait to continue on. My next read will be of the 2nd interlude "Awakening".

Apr. 14, 2018, 9:35pm

I just finished The White Monkey, and A Silent Wooing by John Galsworthy.

I hope it is OK to continue the thread to the end of the Forsyte Chronicles. Although I realize I might be on my own.

The fourth book of the Forsyte Chronicles (and the first of the trilogy A Modern Comedy) takes the reader to the Twenties, when life has changed a great deal for Soames and for everyone. For all his faults he is upright and honest and I still can't help liking him. It is ironic that his daughter's love life has some similarities to his own: just as he wanted Irene and couldn't have her, Fleur wanted Jon and couldn't have him. But Fleur is much more fortunate than her father because of her marriage to Michael Mont who is devoted to her. Galsworthy has again captured the essence of class and culture in the disillusionment following The Great War, comparing the dire poverty of many without jobs to the shallow frivolity of the wealthy. The title is taken from a painting of a white monkey that Soames gave the Monts for Fleur's Chinese room, a fitting portrayal of the era: a monkey who eats the fruit, discards the peel, without giving a thought to the meaning of life, while staring out at its audience daring them to disagree.

In the interlude, A Silent Wooing, Jon meets Anne Wilmot. The beginning of a new thread in the story.

Apr. 15, 2018, 8:59am

>47 VivienneR: Please do! I think there was one or two that were interested in continuing on past the Saga and into the Chronicles. It's nice to keep it all in one place. ;-)

Apr. 15, 2018, 9:59am

>48 luvamystery65: Good! I'm enjoying the series so much that I must keep going. I hope there will be others joining me.

Apr. 29, 2018, 5:44pm

I'm almost done with Don Quixote so in order to not put off this series any longer, I've subscribed to Daily Lit to push me to read it. I suspect once I start, I won't want to stop. I do have the book and the Kindle version so the Daily Lit is just to motivate me.

Apr. 30, 2018, 12:58pm

>50 luvamystery65: Congrats on getting through Don Quixote, Roberta! Although lengthy, The Forsyte Saga isn't a difficult read and I think once you get the characters straight, you will enjoy it.

This month I will be reading "The Awakening", the last interlude, and then I plan to finish the last book of The Forsyte Sage in June.

Mai 2, 2018, 11:00am

>50 luvamystery65: I know what you mean, although I'm still at ~ 2/3rds distance.
I'm not sure I'm going to want to pick up another big book immediately. I have an edition with the first 3 stories bound together. Borrowed from the library, I assume they'll want it back at some point...

Mai 17, 2018, 12:43pm

>51 DeltaQueen50: Judy I officially start The Forsyte today as I finished DQ last night.

>52 Helenliz: Whew I made it! I have so many feelings about this. I'll post them on the DQ page when I've sorted them out.

Mai 17, 2018, 12:53pm

>53 luvamystery65: Congratulations on finishing Don Quixote, Roberta! I'm sure you'll find The Forsyte Saga a much easier read.

Mai 21, 2018, 6:43pm

>53 luvamystery65: Congratulations, Ro. Finishing Don Quixote is quite the feat!

I read the last interlude and I am looking forward to finishing the Saga in June.

Bearbeitet: Mai 28, 2018, 3:24pm

So I started A Man of Property and I'm early in, but Soames is very creepy with his obsessiveness and possessiveness about everything.

Out of his other property, out of all the things he had collected, his silver, his pictures, his houses, his investments, he got a secret and intimate feeling; out of her he got none. In this house of his there was writing on every wall. His business-like temperament protested against a mysterious warning that she was not made for him. He had married this woman, conquered her, made her his own, and it seemed to him contrary to the most fundamental of all laws, the law of possession, that he could do no more than own her body - if indeed he could do that, which he was beginning to doubt. If any one had asked him if he wanted to own her soul, the question would have seemed to him both ridiculous and sentimental. But he did so want, and the writing said he never would.


I'll get to Irene later.

Bearbeitet: Mai 29, 2018, 2:43pm

Roberta, I just finished and posted my review of The Silver Spoon. Soames has mellowed quite a bit. He is totally devoted to his daughter Fleur.

I bit off more than I could chew this month and thought I might not be able to get to a Galsworthy. I'm glad I was able to fit in this one because I'm really enjoying the series. I think this is about as far as I got the first time I read the Forsytes many years ago. I'm eager to continue.

Jun. 9, 2018, 9:50am

So I have finally picked up this. I have a single volume edition of the 3 novels and two interludes. I think I will list them as individual novels, as I plan on taking a break between each book. But let's see how it goes.
Currently reading the introduction.

Jun. 9, 2018, 10:56am

Good to see you here, Helen. Your plan sounds like a good one. I've been reading one novel per month and have found myself really looking forward to catching up with the Forsytes.

Jun. 9, 2018, 11:59am

Just started "To Let".

Jun. 9, 2018, 3:11pm

I was planning on reading the last book, "To Let" this month, but I think I am going to put it off until July as I find myself overbooked for the month.

Jun. 9, 2018, 9:56pm

I probably mentioned this before it's worth repeating - all 9 books (three trilogies) and the 4 interludes are available for free download at

Jun. 16, 2018, 8:57pm

I really thought I would enjoy these books because I knew it was a good story, but I am very surprised at how much I am enjoying John Galsworthy's writing.

And first, in the security bred of many harmless marriages, it had been forgotten that Love is no hot-house flower, but a wild plant, born of a wet night, born of an hour of sunshine; sprung from wild seed, blown along the road by a wild wind. A wild plant that, when it blooms by chance within the hedge of our gardens, we call a flower; and when it blooms outside we call a weed; but, flower or weed, whose scent and colour are always, wild! And further - the facts and figures of their own lives being against the perception of this truth - it was not generally recognized by Forsytes that, where, this wild plant springs, men and women are but moths around the pale, flame-like blossom.

Jun. 16, 2018, 9:04pm

Here is another passage I enjoyed.

To shut up a lion or tiger in confinement was surely a horrible barbarity. But no cultivated person would admit this. The idea of its being barbarous to confine wild animals had probably never even occurred to his father for instance; he belonged to the old school, who considered it at once humanizing and educational to confine baboons and panthers, holding the view, no doubt, that in course of time they might induce these creatures not so unreasonably to die of misery and heart-sickness against the bars of their cages, and put the society to the expense of getting others! In his eyes, as in the eyes of all the Forstyes, the pleasure of seeing these beautiful creatures in a state of captivity far outweighed the inconvenience of imprisonment to beast whom God had so improvidently placed in a state of freedom!

Jun. 17, 2018, 7:43am

>63 luvamystery65:, 64 I know what you mean, at times it is very descriptive. I'm at about the same point as you (seeing I recognise both of those passages).

Jun. 17, 2018, 5:58pm

>64 luvamystery65: & >65 Helenliz: I was quite surprised at how accessible these books were. I have been read quite a few "classics" recently from the 1001 List and have found that many books that I avoided most of my life, thinking they were too "highbrow" for me, are really good reads.

Jun. 18, 2018, 11:41am

>65 Helenliz: I'm so glad you are reading at the same time as I am. It's nice to have company.

>66 DeltaQueen50: Yes, I do find this one very accessible.

Jun. 22, 2018, 8:11am

I've finished The Man of Property which I really enjoyed.
Going to read a couple of others things then get back to the next book next month.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 25, 2018, 12:15pm

I also finished The Man of Property. The ending just made me so sad.

I don't like Irene, but no woman deserves to be viewed as property and no woman deserves to be raped. I know in those days women were viewed as property and this is a large part of what the story is about. I felt very sorry for Soames up until the point he decides to rape her. This sealed it for me, that he knew what he was doing was wrong even though it was his right under the law.

Slumber had removed his doubts, but the morning brought them again. One thought comforted him: No one would know - it was not the sort of thing that she would speak about.

And indeed, when the vehicle of his daily business life, which needed so imperatively the grease of clear and practical thought, started rolling once more with the reading of his letters, those nightmare like doubts began to assume less extravagant importance at the back of his mind. The incident was really not of great moment; women made a fuss about it in books; but in the cool judgement of right-thinking men, of men of the world, of such as he recollected often received praise in Divorce Court, he had but done his best to sustain the sanctity of marriage, to prevent her from abandoning her duty, possibly, if she were still seeing Bosinney, from...

No, he did not regret it.

Now that the first step towards reconciliation had been taken, the rest would be comparatively - comparatively...

Soames had my complete sympathy up until then.

Jun. 25, 2018, 11:46am

This book was beautifully written. I'm going to finish up Phineas Redux and then I'm going on to the first Interlude.

Jun. 25, 2018, 2:38pm

>69 luvamystery65: Glad you enjoyed The Man of Property. Throughout the series I haven't been able to drum up any fondness for Irene although she deserved it in the scene you mention. However, now that I am reading about Soames and his daughter, Fleur, I really like him, most of all for his complete loyalty to her.

Jun. 25, 2018, 5:58pm

>71 VivienneR: I don't have any fondness for Irene, but my heart broke for her after all that. I remember from the show how much Soames adored Fleur, but I can't like him. I also feel so sad for June. She really dodged a bullet, but she is too hardheaded to realize it.

Jun. 26, 2018, 12:39am

>72 luvamystery65: So true about June. Most people forget about her, but she deserved so much better than Bosinney, who was not only unfaithful but whose head was too easily turned by a good looking woman who had money.

Jun. 26, 2018, 2:27am

I found it hard to like either Soames or Irene. Struck me that both had made a pact with the devil and were both regretting it, only neither could work out how to get out of it. I also felt that Irene's behaviour with Bosinney was underhand. She knew that he was engaged to June, yet still chose to become more deeply involved with him.
Struck me that June had a lucky escape too, but I thought her too young to realise it. She was, it seemed to me, quite prepared to buy Bosinney, thus repeating Irene's mistake. June may be temporarily unhappy, but that seems to be better than comfortable but unhappy in the long term.

Jun. 26, 2018, 3:39pm

Don't you think watching a movie or tv series can influence our opinion of a book? I first read the Saga then watched the old tv series in which Soames was played magnificently by Eric Porter. I found that although Soames was performed just the way Galsworthy wrote the character, I was much more sympathetic to Porter's portrayal. Now that I'm re-reading the books, I still see Eric Porter in the part.

Unfortunately that old series was never re-run because it was done in black and white, already outdated at the time. I only saw a few clips of the more recent series and detested Soames.

Jun. 30, 2018, 7:49pm

>75 VivienneR: I've seen the more recent TV series of The Forsyte Saga and I do agree it can influence our opinion on a book. I did not read this series for a long time because I really didn't like the Soames from the series and it really was "The Irene Show." I'm glad I read it because Soames is much more complex in the book than the way Damian Lewis portrays him in the series. In the series, he is portrayed as mean. In the book, he is not mean, but he really is very set in his ways and his world view centers on his life being in a certain order. It's the way of the Forsytes, but it is amplified in Soames.

What strikes me about Irene being unlikable is that she is so narrowly written. I think if we had been given a better glimpse inside her head, we might have more sympathy for her. I don't know. Most of the men are written as complex or you at least get a better understanding of them than the women. Even if they are jerks like Dartie you are privy to some inner thoughts. The women, not so much. It's very superficial. June is the only woman written as more than two-dimensional and even so, I would have loved Galsworthy to delve deeper.

Ah well, the first book is indeed better than the most recent series. I'll continue to post thoughts as I read further.

Jul. 1, 2018, 1:12pm

>76 luvamystery65: Roberta, you made some very perceptive points and I agree with you. I've been reading a little about Galsworthy and found that he had a lengthy affair with his cousin's wife, Ada, eventually marrying her after his divorce. It is said that Irene was based on Ada. Maybe the personal factor is what kept him from revealing too much of Irene. I've just finished the second trilogy A Modern Comedy and found Fleur was a much more complex character than Irene. But she's a spoiled brat and a combination of loveable and unlikeable.

My opinion:

Swan Song by John Galsworthy

Written in 1928, this is the sixth book of the Forsyte Chronicles, the third, and probably the best, of A Modern Comedy trilogy. An appealing feature of this series is that Soames often remembers the old family members so that they are not forgotten, their influence, if not their presence, is still part of the story. Experiencing the passage of time has always been one of the most captivating parts of the saga. Now in 1926 the General Strike has almost brought the country to a standstill. This gives Fleur, one of the generation known as the Bright Young Things, a chance to shine in a new capacity by running a canteen for volunteer workers. This is where she spots Jon and the old yearnings are reborn in her. Jon proves to be weak as water and I have no sympathy for him. We have always known that Fleur is spoiled but she shows her true colours in this one with devastating results. Of course, Soames knows his daughter well and although he tries hard, he is helpless to change the course of events. The dramatic ending was very moving.

Jul. 8, 2018, 5:32am

Finished the first interlude, Indian Summer of a Forsyte. I like Old Jolyon, he manages to be a crusty of patriarch and have a good heart at the same time. I was intrigued to read that Irene had left Soames; at the end of The Man of Property she seemed to have accepted the bargain she'd made initially, a comfortable life with a husband she didn't love - whatever the cost.

On to In Chancery. I have ~ 6 hours on a train over the next 2 days (in this heat, I must be mad) so I should make some good progress.

Jul. 9, 2018, 4:02pm

Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy

In this, the first book of the trilogy End of the Chapter, the main characters are members of Fleur's husband, Michael Mont’s’s family. Initially I found the writing style less polished than the books that went before, and thought it might have been an early piece reworked. However, when I started to read Simonson's The Summer Before the War alongside, it proved that less than perfect writing by Galsworthy is still a cut above. So, although the beginning was less engaging than some of the previous books in the Forsyte Chronicles, its merit held up when compared to the contemporary work.

There are repercussions following an expedition when Hubert Cherrell, Mont’s cousin, killed a Bolivian muleteer in a violent altercation. His sister Dinny tries to solve his predicament through negotiations and receives a couple of marriage proposals along the way. The other storyline was about the mental health issues of the husband of a family friend. Galsworthy’s characters are vivid, he is insightful about his era and brings it to life. While not up to the high drama of the Forsytes, this is well worth reading.

Jul. 9, 2018, 4:16pm

Finished In Chancery in 2 train journeys. It was good to be able to immerse myself in another family's troubles, as my trip was for my cousin's funeral. Dead at 38, leaving a 16 month old daughter. Life is too cruel at times. In which case I'm not in the right frame of mind for a fair review right now - that's going to wait a few days.

Jul. 9, 2018, 8:32pm

So sorry to hear about your cousin. It's especially sad for such a young daughter.

Jul. 11, 2018, 12:37am

>80 Helenliz: I am also very sorry to read about your cousin.

Jul. 11, 2018, 12:44am

I have finally finished the last book, To Let, and while overall I really liked The Forsyte Saga this last book wasn't my favorite. I have to admit that I am glad to be done with Soames and Irene. I, too, was sorry that we never really were given a chance to know Irene. As much as I was horrified by the rape, I found her too cold and distant throughout most of the book. Soames was probably a product of his time, but I found him too rigid and pompous. I much preferred reading about the many other Forsytes.

Jul. 11, 2018, 1:05am

Thank you.

Jul. 11, 2018, 3:01pm

>83 DeltaQueen50: Yes, Soames was pompous and rigid but that was almost a requirement for the nouveau riche so that they were able to fit in with Victorian aristocracy. I mentioned above (#77) that Irene was said to have been created from his cousin's wife, Ada, with whom he had a long-standing affair and later married. If so, he may not have wanted Ada to be recognizable and skimmed details.

Aug. 14, 2018, 9:49am

I read The Man of Property in April; it was brutal! Loads of great commentary here. I think I liked Soames a little bit more than Irene; but I think they both were smart enough to know what they were getting into when they married each other.

I was also surprised about Old Jolyon's warming up; I didn't quite know what to make of Young Jolyon's wife's crying about that.

I'll try to make some more progress with the saga over the next month.

Aug. 14, 2018, 3:35pm

Just finished Flowering Wilderness by John Galsworthy

This is the second book in End of the Chapter, the final trilogy of the Forsyte Chronicles. The story centres on Dinny Cherrell and her engagement to Wilfred Desert who was once Fleur's admirer. Demonstrating how the social order has changed, Dinny is a strong woman, self-assertive and determined, unlike the simpering Irene. She is one of my favourite characters of the entire saga.

This one finished with a cliffhanger of sorts making me want to start the remaining volume right away.

Aug. 16, 2018, 1:32am

Just started To Let.

Aug. 25, 2018, 4:05am

Hurrah! finished To Let. I'd like to thank whoever had the idea of the group read, as I've really enjoyed the 3 books once pushed to read them. I can see me reading more of the sequence, as there's something very enticing about Galsworthy's writing. Even if I still don't really like Soames.

Aug. 27, 2018, 3:12pm

Congrats. on finishing To Let. I enjoyed the read a lot but haven't decided whether I will be continuing on with more of the Forsytes. I have that age old problem - too many books - not enough time!

Okt. 9, 2018, 2:30pm

While in hospital last week my reading choices were limited to what was on my phone. Fortunately that included One More River by John Galsworthy, the ninth and final novel in the Forsyte Chronicles.

I've been reading one per month this year and now will be sorry to say goodbye to the Forsytes and their extended family. Galsworthy continues the story that involves divorce laws as they were in the 1930s. Different, but not much, from those that Soames and Irene experienced in the 1890s. An excellent ending to the series.

Not much of a review, I know, but I'm still recovering from that hospital stay last week.

Okt. 27, 2018, 10:27am

>91 VivienneR: How are you doing?

I started back on the Forsyte Saga. I'm currently reading In Chancery. Those Forsytes and their possessions! That Nicholas Forsyte, "He had of course, never really forgiven the Married Woman's Property Act, which would so have interfered with him if he had not married before it was passed."

Okt. 27, 2018, 11:58am

>92 luvamystery65: Hi Roberta! Recovery was slow but I'm hoping I get the all-clear when I get a check up on Monday. I hope you are well too and working hard at school.

Glad you have gone back to the Forsytes. Galsworthy gave us a good portrayal of social conditions of the times, especially as they affected women. But as Nicholas (and others) made clear, old ideas are hard to relinquish. I was glad Soames softened although he was always the typical Victorian.

Okt. 29, 2018, 4:51pm

>92 luvamystery65: I'll start back up with you Ro! I still have to read the first interlude, but I think that will be quick.

Nov. 5, 2018, 2:18pm

Read the first interlude, Indian Summer of a Forsyte, and found it quite interesting that Old Jolyon had bought Soames country estate - also that he found in his waning years that he loved nature, youth and beauty. Also interesting to see Irene living on her own, giving piano lessons, and helping poor women. It looks like she did all right spending time with Old Jolyon...

Nov. 13, 2018, 7:51pm

I finished Part 1 of In Chancery; just wow - Soames' reaction after 12 years of separation was very interesting. Irene really must be something else...

Nov. 14, 2018, 12:12am

Arm candy! I hate to be so negative but I didn't like Irene much.

Nov. 14, 2018, 1:22am

I thought both of them had their faults, one being getting married to each other in the first place.

Nov. 17, 2018, 2:31pm

>97 VivienneR: and >98 Helenliz: Agree with both of you - don't like either one of them, but I feel that Irene should never have married Soames.

Finished Part II and only about 20 pages left of Part III. Found this quote to be pretty depressing towards the end of Part II, when Dartie came back to Winifred:

As a family they had so guarded themselves from the expression of all unfashionable emotion that it was impossible to go up and give her daughter a good hug.

Nov. 19, 2018, 10:24am

Finished In Chancery and Awakening.

The last line of In Chancery pretty much sums up Soames for me:

"By God! this - this thing was his!

Nov. 27, 2018, 10:16pm

>100 LisaMorr: I'm reading right along with you.

Nov. 28, 2018, 10:44am

>101 luvamystery65: Hi Ro! I'm almost done - I think I have about 10 more pages left of To Let. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!

Nov. 28, 2018, 11:29am

I'm halfway through To Let. I am studying for my biochem test but I'll get back to it and I'll definitely post my thoughts.

Nov. 28, 2018, 2:48pm

>103 luvamystery65: Good luck!

Just wrapped up The Forsyte Saga. Very well done and overall I really liked it. I must admit that in parts of In Chancery and To Let I skipped ahead to see what was going to happen - but then I went back and read every bit that I skipped. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I just felt more comfortable knowing the ending and was able to then leisurely enjoy the descriptive writing. I don't do that with every book, but felt the need here.

Lots of unlovable characters. My vote for the worst still goes to Irene - I really couldn't forgive her in denying her son and Fleur the chance to be together; Young Jolyon gets second place for his role in this fiasco.

I'm not quite ready to continue with more of The Forsyte Chronicles, but it's on the list now!

Nov. 28, 2018, 4:35pm

Congratulations on finishing the first trilogy. I agree about your most unlovable character. I got to like Soames more in later episodes while liking Irene even less. I hope you continue with the series in the future. I'll watch for your opinions.

Nov. 28, 2018, 9:12pm

D'oh! Another year that I'm not going to get around to reading this. I thought the group read would do it for sure. :) I need to find a paperback copy. The huge, heavy book I have is not conducive to curling up on the couch.

Nov. 28, 2018, 9:48pm

>106 madhatter22: The paperback is also huge and the print is small. There is free Kindle version available.

I plan to continue but not anytime soon. Feel free to star the thread and report back when you've read.

Nov. 29, 2018, 1:17am

I went as far as to get the next trilogy A Modern Comedy from the library, but that's as far as I've got. I will read more of these, it's a question of when.

Nov. 29, 2018, 11:08am

>105 VivienneR: Thanks! I've just gone back and read through all your comments on the rest of The Forsyte Chronicles and you've piqued my interest to continue sooner rather than later. I don't think I'll get to it in December, but I'll locate a copy and have it ready in the new year.

Dez. 26, 2018, 1:38pm

I finally finished To Let on Christmas Eve. It was very good. I have to disagree with everyone that Irene kept Jon and Fleur apart. She was definitely a factor, but I do believe it was more Young Jolyon's letter that did it. What put the nail in that coffin was Soames showing up at Fleur's bidding and Jon seeing his mother's reaction to Soames. He raped her and that is a lifelong trauma for her. Jon saw that and remembered his father's words. Fleur was a taker, as both June and Holly told Jon. He knew this. It was always at the back of his mind, even though he loved her. Everyone tried to talk them out of it. Even if they were not who they were, Irene's and Soames' children, their personalities would probably not suit in the long run.

I also am disappointed that she jumped right into marriage with Michael Mont. Very unfair to him.
Soames was a man of property up until the end of the books. The changing times were not going well for him.

I look forward to continuing with the rest of the Forsyte Chronicles. I'm going to dip in and out of them after I finish up The Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope.

I will post here as I continue on with the rest of the books. I hope Lisa and others join and do the same. Thank you Vivienne for posting about the other books! I wasn't really interested in them, until I started the Saga and realized what an exceptional writer Galsworthy is. Your thoughts on the other novels have interested me in wanting to continue.

Thank you to all who participated in our year long read.

Dez. 29, 2018, 2:34pm

Glad you enjoyed To Let and Galsworthy's writing. You make very good points. I think Galsworthy is able to write in such a way that he can get different reactions to his characters - and those reactions can vary for a single reader. As he was a champion for women's rights, I'm sure he would be happy with your opinion. However, I did get to like Soames, whereas I never liked Irene.

Dez. 29, 2018, 3:01pm

>111 VivienneR: I think Galsworthy is able to write in such a way that he can get different reactions to his characters - and those reactions can vary for a single reader.

Indeed! I think that is what makes this series so special. How boring if everyone loved or hated this book. It does get different reactions and I think that is why it is one of the reasons it is included in the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. That and the gorgeous writing of course.

Dez. 31, 2018, 12:46pm

Jan. 8, 2019, 3:33pm

Great discussion and comments - that’s what makes it a great book. I’ll be watching this thread and when I eventually get back to the Forsytes, I’ll post here as well.