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In Chancery (1920)

by John Galsworthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Forsyte Chronicles (2)

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4151146,454 (4.06)100
John Galsworthy's epic Forsyte Saga follows the fortunes of the venerable Forsyte family, a moneyed clan whose values are ever at war with its passions. In Chancery, the second novel in the trilogy, follows the events of A Man of Property. After suffering the death of her lover and abuse from her husband, Soames, Irene Forsyte finally leaves her marriage for good. Though socially disgraced by her affair, she forms a bond with Old Jolyon, a father of the Forsyte clan who had grown distant from the family after reconciling with one of his outcast sons. The young Jolyon had been disinherited after divorcing his wife to marry a penniless foreign governess. Now, with the death of both his beloved wife and his father, the younger Jolyon finds himself drawn in sympathy to Irene, so dear to Old Jolyon in his final days. Their shared troubles blossom into a romance, to the horror of Soames Forsyte.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
After years of melancholy and private embarrassment, Soames Forsyte decides he should divorce his wife Irene, who left him years ago. He encourages his sister Winifred to divorce her husband when he steals her jewelry, threatens her, and heads off on a ship to South America with another woman. As desperate as Soames is to leave his first wife behind and start a family with another he becomes obsessed with Irene again after seeing her after so many years. 'In Chancery' finds the siblings trapped and unhappy with the situation their unwise marriages have left them in.

Time continues erode the family - Galsworthy's themes have expanded with his knowledge of what will happen to the Forsytes and their world. 'The Man of Property' was published in 1906 and 'In Chancery' in 1920. A style of living that was slowly transforming was obliterated in the years between those two novels, Galsworthy's satire becomes necessarily more elegiac. The description of fraying family ties and of cousins drifting apart after the deaths of the older relations that kept them together keeps the story grounded and prevents the novel from being only about the problems of a privileged class. It is mostly about that, but not entirely.

Soames continues to be contrasted with his cousin, Young Jolyon, who abandoned his first wife and child for the love of another woman. Young Jolyon had reconciled with his father at the end of 'Property' and has now inherited his money and the house, also he must pay an allowance to his cousin Soames' estranged wife Irene. More details and subplots make the novels seem improbable, but the overall result is elegant. 'In Chancery' provides the 'The Forsyte Saga' a bittersweet climax for Soames, Irene, and Young Jolyon, giving them what they desire and taking it away at the same time.

'The Forsyte Saga'

Previous: 'The Man of Property'

Next: 'To Let' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
I found this really very good. The line about each family being uniquely unhappy is apt, as the extended Forsyte family is not a happy ship. In this book, set at the turn of the 20th century, there is a sense of change. There is the understandable changing of the guard, Old Jolyon has died before the book starts, one sister and James pass on during the book, all having achieved a ripe old age. The middle generation, of which young Jolyon & Soames are the main protagonists, are moving towards being the elders of the family. They are, in a sense stepping into their father's shoes. The younger generation are the ones trying to move out and into the world, rather than simply follow their fathers.
I still can't like Soames. His behavior towards Irene and his new wife strikes me as reminiscent of Henry VIII - I must have a son and any lengths will I go to. The way he goes about his divorce of Irene strikes me as being almost vengeful. I accept that at the time adultery was the main way in which a divorce could be sought, however he wants the divorce, but not his name to be associated with the scandal of being the guilty party (despite the fact that he has been taking prostitutes, whereas Irene says she has not been having affairs) feels like he wants his take and to eat it. It feels that he, in fact, precipitates the relationship between Irene & Jolyon that he quotes as evidence in the divorce. I don;t like the way he treats his new wife either. She, similarly to Irene, seems to have signed a pact with her happiness for security. I don't envy her her lot.
The younger generation are a mixed bag. Young Dartie and Jolly get to show their teeth to each other, then end up in deeper trouble than anticipated, with not backing down resulting in them heading off to fight a war. That the precipitates the girls to follow suit and nurse them. They feel more impetuous, but that is probably both their age and the age they come of age in, there's a raft of social changes at this time.
Overall, this is turning into a really good read. I was intimidated by the size of the task, but the idea of a book a month breaks the saga down into manageable chunks and I look forward to finding out what lies in store for the family in the new century. ( )
  Helenliz | Jul 14, 2018 |
This is the second book in the Forsyte Saga trilogy and is the weakest of the three books as it mostly deals with Soames stubbornly refusing to believe that his relationship with Irene is irretrievably broken and Irene's growing relationship with young Jolyn. Mostly this book sets the reader up for the third volume where all the interesting things happen. ( )
  etxgardener | Apr 24, 2018 |
Very enjoyable continuation of Soames and Irene's disastrous relationship. I had to gave 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.

In modern times, it is shocking to read of the divorce laws and realize a married woman was regarded as "owned". And divorce was not so easy to attain.

Soames doesn't come out well here, but I still can't warm to 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. ( )
  VivienneR | Apr 16, 2018 |
Match found in the German National Library.
  glsottawa | Apr 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Galsworthy, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buddingh', C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nahuys, R.H.G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Two households both alike in dignity, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Romeo and Juliet
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To Jessie and Joseph Conrad
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The possessive instinct never stands still.
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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.
... [his uncle’s] little drawing-room into which, with his undoubted taste, Soames had introduced a good deal of change and china not quite up to his own fastidious mark, and at least two rather doubtful Barbizon pictures, at Christmas-tides. He himself, who had done extremely well with the Barbizons, had moved towards the Marises, Israels, and Mauve, and was hoping to do better. In the house he now inhabited he had a gallery, beautifully hung and lighted, to which few London dealers were strangers.... His reputation was grounded not on mere aesthetic fancy, but on his power of gauging the future of market values.
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John Galsworthy's epic Forsyte Saga follows the fortunes of the venerable Forsyte family, a moneyed clan whose values are ever at war with its passions. In Chancery, the second novel in the trilogy, follows the events of A Man of Property. After suffering the death of her lover and abuse from her husband, Soames, Irene Forsyte finally leaves her marriage for good. Though socially disgraced by her affair, she forms a bond with Old Jolyon, a father of the Forsyte clan who had grown distant from the family after reconciling with one of his outcast sons. The young Jolyon had been disinherited after divorcing his wife to marry a penniless foreign governess. Now, with the death of both his beloved wife and his father, the younger Jolyon finds himself drawn in sympathy to Irene, so dear to Old Jolyon in his final days. Their shared troubles blossom into a romance, to the horror of Soames Forsyte.

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