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MAN OF PROPERTY by John Galsworthy
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MAN OF PROPERTY (original 1906; edition 1968)

by John Galsworthy (Author)

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8491518,478 (3.89)120
London of the 1880s: The Forsyte family is gathered - gloves, waistcoats, feathers and frocks - to celebrate the engagement of young June Forstye to an architect, Philip Bosinney. The family are intrigued but wary of this stranger in their midst, who they nickname 'the Buccaneer'. Amongst those present are Soames Forsyte and his beautiful wife Irene - his most prized possession. With that meeting a chain of heartbreaking and tragic events is set in motion that will split the family to the very core...… (more)
Member:pwpw
Title:MAN OF PROPERTY
Authors:John Galsworthy (Author)
Info:Penguin (1968), Edition: Later Printing
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The Man of Property by John Galsworthy (1906)

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Soames Forsyte, the most successful scion of a family that is upper middle class respectability, is proud of his accomplishments, but longs to have a family to continue his legacy. His most prized possession is his beautiful wife Irene. 'The Man of Property' finds Irene begin an affair with the architect designing the country house her husband wishes to isolate her within. The novel isn't very long, but it builds the Forsyte family to mythical proportions. Their rituals, the relationships of the eldest generation with each other and with their children. Galsworthy was talking of a vanishing world here, but the dynamics ring true, with a tight focus upon one character's moral actions.

The bleak finale to this novel, which left readers hanging for almost fifteen years, leaves little room to consider Soames as anything other than a monster, but Galsworthy is sympathetic to the man and later novels would find him trying to redeem his main character. Soames desires beautiful things for their material value and serves his family out of a sense of duty more than affection, but there are hidden depths to his personality, and love, too, but its difficult for a reader to recognize those qualities, or forgive him.

It's likely I'll always think first of television when I think about 'The Forsyte Saga', the adaptions being so iconic. The 2002 mini-series did justice to Galsworthy's story and the period, I don't think it succeeded in capturing Soames' character. I was glad to have the sequel on hand!

'The Forsyte Saga'

Next: 'In Chancery' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
I really enjoyed this first installment in the family Forstye's history. It is set over quite a short period of time, and the action all proceeds quite slowly. This means that we get to know the various characters. Old Jolyon is a delight. There is (fortunately) a family tree provided, such that you can get the various characters straight. There are 3 generations who feature in this book, Old Jolyon and his siblings, their children and grandchildren. Old Jolyon has made a number of choices in respect of his treatment of his family, and in this book, those begin to change, with him softening his stance towards his son.
The marriage of Soames and Irene is clearly unhappy, but I can't help feeling that each party is unpleasant as the other. Irene clearly doesn't love Soames, but agreed to marry him and is now looking for a way out. She takes a lover, who happens to be engaged to Soames' relative, June. Soames is simply incapable of understanding his wife, and so they are both unhappy. And, based on how this concludes, they'll carry on making each other unhappy through a mixture of pride and stubbornness that each possess. I can't say I found either to be terribly likeable.
Of the other members of the family, there are the spinster sisters, the bachelor brother, the reclusive brother, the assortment of cousins. Some of them play a minor role in the story, and there are some lively characters in the mix there. It's set at an interesting time, in that the younger set are beginning to change the status quo that Jolyon and his siblings seem to cling to.
I really enjoyed this, and will move onto the interlude and books 2 of the saga, In Chancery, in due course. ( )
  Helenliz | Jun 22, 2018 |
Galsworthy is an old-fashioned writer - almost Victorian in his style - so his writing might be hard for the modern reader. However, I would recommend that any reader would persevere with this heart breaking story of love, betrayal and loss.

The Forsyths of this saga are a large upper-middle class English family living comfortably in London's West End. The many members meet regularly at Timothy Forsyth's house to exchange news and family go And there is much to gossip about in this family.

Young June Forsyth is about to get engaged to an architect with a distinctly artistic bent. Philip Bossiney. This does not sit well with June's grandfather, Jolyon. Probably because his son, "Young Jolyon," ran off with June's governess ten years prior.

In complete contrast is Soames Forsyth. He is a solicitor and art collector and as steady (and dull) as possibly could be. He is married to the beautiful Irene who doesn't love him, but married him to escape her own unhappy home.

Bossiney is hired to build a country home for Soames and when he meets Irene, sparks fly instantly and they begin an affair. This is bad enough, but could have been kept a secret if only Bossinney would be a little less artistic and stick to his budget. Instead he runs over and Soames, in a fit of pique, sues him. Upon winning Irene shows her utter loathing for Soames and he exerts his rights as a husband. When Bossinney hears this, he runs out of his lodgings in a heavy fog to meet Irene and gets run over in the street.

Everyone is unhappy: Bossinney is dead, June has lost her finace, Irene has to return to her loveless marriage and Soames has to face the fact that, try as he might, he just isn't loveable. ( )
  etxgardener | Apr 1, 2018 |
It's been many, many years since the last time I read the nine-volume saga or watched the 1967 TV series, but the characters came back easily thanks to Galsworthy's defining characterizations. Written in 1906, while Victorian values were still of consequence, Galsworthy portrays a family trying to maintain those principles yet beset by events that might shatter their carefully constructed citadel. I enjoyed the re-read tremendously, just as much as the original reading. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jan 7, 2018 |
I've finished the first book in the first trilogy of the Forsyte Chronicles, as well as the first interlude, Indian Summer of a Forsyte. The Man of Property was written in (1906) and is the story of a family fairly new to money. In this novel the Forsyte family members are introduced, and Soames Forsyte is the man of property of the title. He values his possessions above all else, and those possessions include his beautiful wife Irene. There is no happy ending here, but I really enjoyed this first installment, with its cutting satire of late Victorian middle class values. The interlude, written in 1918, focuses on Soames uncle, Old Jolyon Forsyte, and Irene. I must admit I loved this old man. ( )
1 vote NanaCC | May 16, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Galsworthyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mozley, CharlesIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waugh, EvelynPrefacemain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentleman, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nahuys, R.H.G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waugh, EvelynIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You will answer / The Slaves are ours - Merchant of Venice
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To Edward Garnett
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Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the Forsytes have seen that charming and instructive sight - an upper middle-class family full of plumage.
Quotations
He had stopped to look in a picture shop, for Soames was an “amateur” of pictures, and had a little room in no. 62 Montpelier Square, full of canvases, stacked against the wall, which he had no room to hang.... he would enter this room on Sunday afternoons, to spend hours turning the pictures to the light, examining the marks on their backs, and occasionally making notes.
The inner decoration [of Soames’s house] favoured the First Empire and William Morris.... there were countless nooks resembling birds’ nests, and little things made of silver were deposited like eggs.
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London of the 1880s: The Forsyte family is gathered - gloves, waistcoats, feathers and frocks - to celebrate the engagement of young June Forstye to an architect, Philip Bosinney. The family are intrigued but wary of this stranger in their midst, who they nickname 'the Buccaneer'. Amongst those present are Soames Forsyte and his beautiful wife Irene - his most prized possession. With that meeting a chain of heartbreaking and tragic events is set in motion that will split the family to the very core...

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