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The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
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This saga takes place in England during 1880-1920 time frame. The book includes a family tree, in order to follow the characters properly. Main character is Soame Forsyth and his wife Irene. She married him under false pretenses - mainly to escape her parents. She finds she cannot stand Soame, who is a man of property but lacking in understanding and compassion. As was common in those days, Irene found she was stuck in a loveless marriage and could do nothing to escape It took me awhile to get into this story- it was hard to keep track of everyone and find their pertinence to the tale. ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 27, 2017 |
Four and a half stars. Actually three books in one, this is a wonderfully poignant tale spanning the years from Victorian 1865 to the "modern" 1920. Galworthy develops his characters beautifully; they are so like real people, the reader becomes immersed in their lives, applauding their strengths and lamenting their fatal flaws. These characters evoke strong opinions! A story of life moving on - the fading away of the older generation and their "simple" ways to the disintegration of class distinction and a new world where those caught between the generations mourn the loss of that past. The final book was not as appealing to me as the earlier two (hence the loss of 1/2 star), probably because I identified with mourning the loss of the past and the new, modern world just marked the end of an era of which I am reluctant to let go. Read it! You'll not be sorry. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
3.5 stars ( )
  Lynsey2 | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Forsyte Saga John Galsworthy
3 Stars

Essentially this is the story of two main characters Soames Forsyte and his wife Irene.

Soames and Irene are the central characters in this novel about family, family secrets and changing times. Through them we learn about the older generation of Forsytes and through them the younger generations are affected with sad consequences.

While I enjoyed this read and following the family down through the generations I much prefer the way Penny Vincenzi handles the same kind of subject, that said this is an older book and perhaps that should be taken into consideration when rating it.

It provides an interesting insight into Edwardian England and the kind of people you would find there

So overall my opinion not fantastic but probably of its time ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
John Galsworthy was born on August 14, 1867 in Surrey, England. Although more popular as a playwright during his lifetime, Galsworthy is now famous for his fiction masterpiece, The Forsyte Saga, which won him a Nobel prize for literature a year before his death in 1933. The saga traces the ups and downs of the upper middle class Forsyte family from the end of the 19th century up until 1920 in a series of three novels and two “interludes”. Think Downton Abbey.

Did Nature permit a Forsyte not to make a slave of what he adored? Could beauty be confided to him?

Unlike Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, John Galsworthy dissected the lives of the people of his own class. Galsworthy could not tolerate the obsession of his peers with buying and selling. The idea that one could “own” ineffables such as beauty and love, whether as art or a wife, was contemptible to him. He channelled his disgust into the creation of the odious but unforgettable Soames Forsyte, jealous husband of the beautiful Irene (pronounced in the Edwardian style: I-REE-nee). Galsworthy was clearly in love with the character of Irene, making her story of self-determination the unifying thread of the entire tapestry. Indeed it is hard to miss his empathy for women in this series.

The Forsyte Saga has been serialised twice on television, most recently and lavishly by Granada TV with Damian Lewis as Soames and the elegant Gina McKee as Irene. If the print format seems daunting at 912 pages (Oxford paperback), I highly recommend the audiobook narrated in a beautiful Edwardian drawl by Fred Williams. ( )
  julie10reads | Aug 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Galsworthy, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tuulio, TyyniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, FredNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
book I: the man of property: "...You will answer/ The slaves are ours...." ~ merchant of venice
book II: in chancery: "Two households both alike in dignity, [...] From ancient grudge break to new mutiny." ~ romeo and juliet
book III: to let: "From out the fatal loins of those two foes/ A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life." ~ romeo and juliet
interlude: indian summer of a forsyte: "And summer's lease hath all too short a date." ~ Shakespeare
Dedication
book I: the man of property: TO EDWARD GARNETT
indian summer of a forsyte: TO ANDRE CHEVRILLON
book II: in chancery: TO JESSIE AND JOSEPH CONRAD
book III: to let: TO CHARLES SCRIBNER
To MY WIFE I DEDICATE THE FORSYTE SAGA IN ITS ENTIRETY, BELIEVING IT TO BE OF ALL MY WORK THE LEAST UNWORTHY OF ONE WITHOUT WHOSE ENCOURAGEMENT, SYMPATHY AND CRITICISM I COULD NEVER HAVE BECOME EVEN SUCH A WRITER AS I AM
First words
Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the Forsytes have seen that charming and instructive sight--an upper middle-class family in full plumage.
Quotations
Other eyes besides the eyes of June and of Soames has seen "those two" (as Euphemia had already begun to call them) coming from the conservatory; other eyes had noticed the look on Bosinney's face.// There are moments when Nature reveals the passion hidden beneath the careless calm of her ordinary moods--violent spring flashing white on almond-blossom through the purple clouds; a snowy, moonlit peak, with its single star, soaring up to the passionate blue; or against the flames of sunset, an old yew-tree standing dark guardian of some fiery secret.// There are moments, too, when in a picture-gallery, a work, noted by a casual spectator as "...Titian-remarkably fine," breaks through the defenses of some Forsyte better lunched perhaps than his fellows, and holds him spellbound in a kind of ecstasy. There are things, he feels--there are things here which--well, there are things. Something unreasoning, unreasonable, is upon him; when he tries to define it with the precision of a practical man, it eludes him, slips away, as the glow of a wine he has drunk is slipping away, leaving him cross, and conscious of his liver. He feels that he has been extravagant, prodigal of something; virtue has gone out of him. He did not desire this glimpse of what lay under the three stars of his catalogue. God forbid that he should know anything about the forces of Nature! God forbid that he should admit for a moment that there are such things! Once admit that, and where was he? One paid a shilling for entrance, and another for the programme.// The look which June had seen, which other Forsytes had seen, was like the sudden flashing of a candle through a hole in some imaginary canvas, behind which it was being moved--the sudden flaming out of a vague, erratic glow, shadowy and enticing. It brought home to onlookers the consciousness that dangerous forces were at work. For a moment they all noticed it with pleasure, with interest, then felt they must not notice it at all.// It supplied, however, the reason of June's coming so late and disappearing again without dancing, without even shaking hands with her lover. She was ill, it was said, and no wonder.// But here they looked at each other guiltily. They had no desire to spread scandal, no desire to be ill-natured. Who would have? And to outsiders no word was breathed, unwritten law keeping them silent.// Then came the news that June had gone to the seaside with old Jolyon. He had carried her off to Broadstairs, for which place there was just then a feeling. Yarmouth having lost caste, in spite of Nicholas, and no Forsyte going to the sea without intending to have to an air for his money such as would render him bilious in a week. That fatally arstocratic tendency of the first Forsyte to drink Madeira had left his descendants undoubtedly accessible.// So June went to the sea. The family awaited developments; there was nothing else to do.// But how far--how far had "those two" gone? How far were they going to go? Could they really be going at all? Nothing could surely come of it, for neither of them had any money. At the most a flirtation, ending, as all such attachments should, at the proper time. (book I: the man of property: part II: chapter IX: evening at richmond)
Of all those whom this strange rumour about Bosinney and Mrs Soames reached, James was the most affected. He had long forgotten how he had hovered, lanky and pale, in side whiskers of chestnut hue, round Emily, in the days of his own courtship. He had long forgotten the small house in the purlieus of Mayfair, where he had spent the early days of his married life, or rather, he had long forgotten the early days, not the small house,--a Forsyte never forgot a house--he had afterwards sold it at a clear profit of four hundred pounds.// He had long forgotten those days with their hopes and fears and doubts about the prudence of the match (for Emily, though pretty, had nothing, and he himself at the time was making a bare thousand a year), and that strange, irresistable attraction which had drawn him on, till he felt he must die if he could not marry the girl with the fair hair, looped so neatly back, the fair arms emerging from a skin-tight bodice, the fair form decorously shielded by a cage of really stupendous circumference.// James had passed through the fire, but he had passed also through the river of years which washes out the fire; he had experienced the saddest experience of all--forgetfulness of what it was like to be in love. Forgotten! Forgotten so long, that he had forgotten even that he had forgotten.// And now this rumour had come upon him, this rumour about his son's wife; very vague, a shadow dodging among the palpable, straightforward appearances of things, unreal, unintelligible as a ghost, but carrying with it, like a ghost, inexplicable terror.// He tried to bring it home to his mind, but it was no more use than trying to apply to himself one of those tragedies he read of daily in his evening paper. He simply could not. There could be nothing in it. It was all their nonsense. She didn't get on with Soames as well as she might, but she was a good little thing--a good little thing!// Like the not inconsiderable majority of men, James relished a nice little bit of scandal, and would say, in a matter-of-fact tone, licking his lips, "Yes, yes--she and young Dyson; they tell me they're living at Monte Carlo!" But the significance of an affair of this sort--of its past, its present, or its future--had never struck him. What it meant, what torture and raptures had gone to its construction, what slow, overmastering fate had lurked within the facts, very naked, sometimes sordid, but generally spicy, presented to his gaze. He was not in the habit of blaming, praising, drawing deductions, or generalizing at all about such things; he simply listened rather greedily, and repeated what he was told, finding considerable benefit from the practice, as from the consumption of a sherryand bitters before a meal.// Now, however, that such a thing--or rather the rumour, the breath of it--had never come near him personally, he felt as in a fog, which filled his mouth full of a bad, thick flavour, and made it difficult to draw breath.// A scandal! A possible scandal!// To repeat this word to himself thus was the only way in which he could focus or make it thinkable. He had forgotten the sensations necessary for understanding the progress, fate, or meaning of any such business; he simply could no longer grasp the possibilities of people running any risk for the sake of passion.// Amongst all those persons of his aquaintance, who went into the City day after day and did their business there, whatever it was, and in their leisure moments bought shares, and houses, and ate dinners, and played games, as he was told, it would have seemed to him ridiculous to suppose that there were any who would run risks for the sake of anything so recondite, so figurative, as passion.// Passion! He seemed, indeed, to have heard of it, and rules such as "A young man and young woman ought never to be trusted together" were fixed in his mind as the parallels of latitude are fixed of a map (for all Forsytes, when it comes to "bed-rock" matters of fact, have quite a fine taste in realism); but as to anything else--well, he could only appreciate it all through the catch-word "scandal."// Ah! but there was no truth in it--could not be. He was not afraid; she was really a good little thing. But there it was when you got a thing like that really into your mind. And James was of a nervous temperament--one of those men whom things will not leave alone, who suffer tortures from anticipation and indecision. For fear of letting something slip that he might otherwise secure, he was physically unable to make up his mind until absolutely certain that, by not making it up, he would suffer loss.// In life, however, there were many occasions when the business of making up his mind did not even rest with himself, and this was one of them. (book I: the man of property: part II: chapter IV: james goes to see for himself)
Nothing in the world is more sure to upset a Forsyte than the discovery that something on which he has stipulated to spend a certain sum has cost more. And this is reasonable, for upon the accuracy of his estimates the whole policy of his life is ordered. If he cannot rely on definite values of property, his compass is amiss; he is adrift upon bitter waters without a helm. (book I: the man of property: part II: chapter XIII: perfection of the house)
For all men of great age, even for all Forsytes, life has had bitter experiences. The passer-by, who sees them wrapped in cloaks of custom, wealth, and comfort, would never suspect that such black shadows had fallen on their roads. (book I: the man of property: part III: chapter VIII: bosinney's departure)
When a man is very old and quite out of the running, he loves to feel secure from the rivalries of youth, for he would still be first in the heart of beauty. (indian summer of a forsyte: I)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Forsyte Saga, Volumes 1 to 3 - The Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let - and two interludes - Indian Summer of a Forsyte and Awakening
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192838628, Paperback)

The three novels which make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and 1920. Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women. This is the only critical edition of the work available, with Notes that explain contemporary artistic and literary allusions and define the slang of the time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:51 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

"This volume contains the first three books in John Galsworthy's 'The Forsyte Chronicles, ' a nine book epic story of an upper-middle-class British family from the 1880s through the 1920s.'" *** "Chronicles the lives of the monied Forsytes, whose sense of what is valuable in this world is constantly at war with their passions."… (more)

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