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The White Monkey

(The Forsyte Chronicles #4)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  729 ratings  ·  53 reviews

Following her marriage to Michael Mont, Fleur Forsyte throws herself into the Roaring 20s with the rest of London and takes life as it comes. But her marriage is haunted by the ghost of a past love affair, and however vibrant Fleur appears, those closest to her sense her unhappiness. Michael, devoted to Fleur but not blind to her faults, is determined to stand by her throu
Mass Market Paperback
Published 1972 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1924)
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4.16  · 
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 ·  729 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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I remember finding the first volume of The Forsyte Saga difficult to get into, and being very irritated with Soames, and this one was no exception, although Soames seemed to be slightly improved.

I was also a little irritated with his daughter, Fleur, at times, although I also felt some sympathy for her restlessness as I’ve felt like that as well on occasion. I felt sorry for her husband, Michael, as he was obviously a very good man and loved her very much and would do anything to please her.

I e
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, audiobooks
The epic story of the Forsyte family continues into the 1920's with the focus on Fleur and her husband Michael Mont. Fleur, who is marrying Michael because she can't have her cousin Jon Forsyte, struggles with a marriage that is empty of love and a sense of purpose. Soames is caught in a banking scandal that throws him once more in the public eye. What is sadly missing from this story is anything about the Jolyon Forsyte side of the family. Jon is briefly mentioned in passing as now living in th ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth book in the Foresyte Chronicles, the first three published together as The Foresyte Saga. The previous volume ended with the patriarch at the family plot reflecting on the passing of an era. Although this book picks up only 2 years after the end of the previous, it is clear that England has begun a new chapter. There is a sense of directionlessness about the advancement of the plot. Watching the lives of this family, and glimpsing moments in the lives of a few new characters, ...more
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The White Monkey is the first novel in John Galsworthy’s second Forsyte trilogy, entitled A Modern Comedy and is the fourth book out of the total nine that I plan to read this year. I am devastated (that is no understatement) to discover that this second trilogy should contain two interludes (like in the first volume) and my copy doesn’t. I may have to go in search of e-book copies of them.

The year is 1922; the Labour party are in the ascendency, The Great War still a bitter memory. Fleur has be
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It has been some time since I read the first 3 of Galsworthy's novels in the 9 book series. I was pleasantly surprised by "The White Monkey" and recommend it strongly not on the basis of continuity with Galsworthy's previous books but for what I consider his very thoughtful observations on the perspective of English society after WWI.

The symbol of the white monkey is key to the whole undercurrent of the novel and is a far more important issue than any of the lesser illustrative dramas that engag
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
This is one of the books I bought without an idea of what it contained. However, after reading the first five pages, I knew that I was in for a treat. The only sad thing about this book is the fact that I did not buy it at first when I had the chance. For that reason, I was forced to read the story from the fourth volume as I go backward. It would be naive of me to suggest that this has not affected my understanding of the book.

The challenges I experienced when reading this book is understandin
Perhaps 3 stars. Very well written as shown by the fact that Galsworthy managed to change my feelings about Soames from dislike bordering on hatred to sympathetic understanding in this first novel of "The Modern Comedy" but I missed the grand sweep of the family connections. This entry in The Forsyte Chronicles focuses almost exclusively on Soames & Fleur and a new couple called Bickett. Some of the other members of the Forsyte clan made fleeting appearances (such as June swooping in and (vi ...more
Kenneth Shersley
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four stars only, despite this being the most readable so far of the F.Saga (in my view). One learns a good deal about Edwardian/wartime/post-war society from Galsworthy, but there's always a writing-by-numbers quality to his writing that's hard to put one's finger on. Many fine passages, much also that is stylistically avant-garde; but a pervasive 'constructedness' - I don't feel quite able to forget that a Novel Is Being Written. Still enjoyed it - many fine things. Will be reading vols 5 & ...more
Victoria Evangelina Allen
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, in-russian

The Forsyte Saga: A Modern Comedy, Book One

While the "initial" Forsyte Saga ends after its third book (To Let, 1921), with the dissolving of Fleur and Jon's romance, Galsworthy continued the series and in 1924 wrote The White Monkey which shifts attention onto the relations of the new generation. Here we still meet Soames (and learn a touch about Jon and his mother, Irene, in the interlude that follows), but the main focus of the fourth book of the Forsyte Saga (and the first one
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Galsworthy called his second Forsyte trilogy A Modern Comedy, which he began with his novel entitled The White Monkey. The book occurs in the years following the first World War, which Galsworthy describes in his preface as, "An Age which knows not what it wants, yet is intensely preoccupied with getting it...". As one must realize in reading the author's phrase, the world may change as time progresses, but people, in many cases, do not. How little today's population has changed from what G ...more
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Well, it's hard to sustain the same level of brilliance across multiple novels and, much as I remembered, Volume 4 is where Galsworthy begins to falter. The White Monkey is inferior to the three volumes that precede it on several counts. At the most fundamental level, the plot is wafer-thin: very little of consequence happens in this book, to any of the characters. Also, the Forsytes no longer occupy the central role that they played in the initial trilogy - of his generation, only Soames and ...more
The figure of the white monkey pervades this part of the series. The white monkey refers to a strange painting that Soames Forsyte inherits from his dying uncle George, one of the original old-school Forsytes. One could suppose it is a symbol of the old regime that must watch the changes brought by the new century into the homes of the Forsytes' youngest generation. The book concentrates mainly on Fleur and Michael's new marriage and their transformation into a married couple. The major conflict ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As the story builds it gets better. You can't help admiring, and then finding, unbidden, that you have actually come to like Soames. The development of his relationship with Michael Mont is like listening to the gradual and reluctant burgeoning friendship between Alan Coren and jeremy Hardy on The News Quiz. A seasoned and clear sighted observer coming to recognise that wisdom and decency are not the sole preserve of the old. Running through the novel is the oncoming Great Depression and the pro ...more
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Awww yes, Soames reading self-help books, buying balloons, and telling off the shareholders. You tell 'em Soames. Fleur continues to be Fleur.

Also, gotta love the good old days when, if you spurned a lover, he would go travelling in the middle east, instead of, like, drunk texting you at 3am.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it

The White Monkey is both a painting - by a Chinese artist, to go with the Chinese drawing room Fleur has designed for her house in London - and an allegory for the life of that time and place, upper middle class England and specifically London, with homes in the city and additional houses in the surrounding countryside. The society is in quest of culture, advance of civilisation, of art and literature and other pursuits of mind and heart - social works, politics, et al - that those who do not ne
Michael Stewart
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
My pithy discussion touches on some plot points.

An excellent entry in the FORSYTE CHRONICLES, with lots of dramatic goodies.

The titular white monkey is the subject of a painting that Soames buys from cousin George's estate, then gives to Fleur. It hangs centre stage in her "Chinese" room. It is a Chauncy Gardiner of art, as Fleur, Michael and Soames tend to read things into the paining, such as religion, decline of Empire, and other psychological/sociological meanings. But it "co
Forsyte Chronicles:-

This work developed over a lifetime and began with a simple theme, that of individual's right to life and love, especially those of a woman. The first trilogy, Forsyte Saga, is the most famous of all. There are three trilogies, Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter being the second and the third. The Forsyte 'Change was written as separate stories about the various characters and spans the time from migration of Jolyon Forsyte the original, referred to usually as Superior Doss
Kilian Metcalf
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it

In this, the fourth of nine novels in the Forsyte Saga, the focus shifts from Soames to his daughter Fleur. I wish I could like Fleur more, but I find her as unsympathetic as her father. Completely selfish, she feels injured because she can't have the man she wants, so she settles for Michael Mont, a decent, hardworking man who loves her completely.

Bored and restless, she decides to have a child. It will please Michael, and she might find it amusing. Like the white monkey of the title (an oil pa
Jane E
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, fiction
This is a fairly slight book but he writes so well that you don't notice quite how slight it is. The story isn't worth much but of real interest is how the 1920's was so like the current age in the big picture. A different and sometimes difficult younger generation, new technology somewhat grudgingly adopted by the older generation and a social whirl to fill up empty time whether it needed filling or not. Important to be seen to be very busy and in demand. Probably worth the time to read if only ...more
Pam Mezaraups
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The Fourth book in the Saga finds society at loose ends...Fleur particularly...and she almost falls into an affair with Wilfred Desert that would be as empty of true passion as her marriage to Michael Mont...Soames is sniffing around foreign deals that his club has gotten into and he smells failure or money loss and possibly some hanky-panky none of which Soames can stand. An undercurrent of discontent. Can't wait to continue the Saga.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars. The ending with a story from Jon in America made it worth finishing. It is so geared to the time frame in which it was written, that it's difficult to wade through some of the references to minutiae from the culture of the period. If someone is very interested in the 1920s time period, they may find these references more intriguing. The plot was decent, but it will be a while before I delve back into the Forsyte Saga.
Joel Van Valin
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The White Monkey is the first book of the second Forsyte trilogy, "A Modern Comedy". Most readers (and BBC adaptations don't make it past the end of the first trilogy, and one can see why: there is little outright drama that follow's Fleur and Michael Mont into their early married life, with Soames hoping for a grandchild and instead finding himself in business imbroglio. Still, it's a finely crafted little novel, and Galsworthy's observations of the 20s as it was being lived are telling.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite author. He's in that class of authors that makes me happy to read every time. There are some very beautiful parts in this book. He sees humanity like so few authors ever can.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meirav Rath
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Every book, in every way, Galsworthy makes us love Forsytes while stabbing them and everything thwy came from with sharper and sharper weappns.
Say that 25 times!
Ali Miremadi
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
More overtly comic than the first three Forsyte novels. Self-consciously a novel of the time, both in style and subject-matter.
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***Spoilers regarding plot points in previous novels in the saga***

In this fourth (of nine) volumes of the Forsyte Saga, the story focuses in on one branch of the family, Soames, his daughter Fleur, and her husband Michael. When we last encountered Fleur, she had given up her cousin Jon, her first love, because the family feud was revealed to her. In that novel, Michael was easy not to like, but here he is a most likable character.

Soames is so interesting to me. Really the villain of the early n
Sherrill Watson
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
My book, published in 1969 has a Bobby, an old bus, several buildings in the background, and Tony Bickett selling balloons on the cover. Don't remember Bickett in the TV series, which is a shame. There is a Chinese dog, Ting-a-Ling, which I don't remember either. Both figure prominently, cleverly.

Michael Mont LOVES Fleur. Soames, her father, does also. MUCH of this novel is concerned with the business of the day and much more with colloquisms. "Dead lion beside live donkey cuts but dim figure."
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
Brilliant! I can see why John Galsworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize and why his work is still in print. I found myself reading some passages over and over, reveling in the rich language and apt descriptions of people and society. An example, from Chapter Five:
And out of the corner of her eye she watched those two. The meetings between 'Old Mont' and 'Old Forsyte' - as she knew Bart called her father when speaking of him to Michael - always made her want to laugh, but she never knew quite why.
Hilary Hicklin
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This series of novels that makes up the Forsyte Chronicles just gets better and better - this is the best so far, which is saying something. Set against the backdrop of the era following the First World War it depicts a disillusioned world where the young see no point in looking to the future, something which goes completely against the grain with the now elderly Soames Forsyte who finds himself embroiled in a business scandal which he feels honour-bound to expose.

Galsworthy also introduces mor
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John Galsworthy (alias John Sinjohn) was an English novelist and playwright whose literary career spanned the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian eras.

In addition to his prolific literary status, Galsworthy was also a renowned social activist. He was an outspoken advocate for the women's suffrage movement, prison reform and animal rights. Galsworthy was the president of PEN, an organization that sou

Other books in the series

The Forsyte Chronicles (9 books)
  • The Man of Property (The Forsyte Chronicles, #1)
  • In Chancery (The Forsyte Chronicles, #2)
  • To Let (The Forsyte Chronicles, #3)
  • The Silver Spoon (The Forsyte Chronicles, #5)
  • Swan Song (The Forsyte Chronicles, #6)
  • Maid In Waiting (The Forsyte Chronicles, #7)
  • Flowering Wilderness (The Forsyte Chronicles, #8)
  • One More River (The Forsyte Chronicles, #9)
“Light-heartedness always made Soames suspicious - there was generally some reason for it.” 8 likes
“And yet, in books were comfort and diversion; and they were wanted!” 7 likes
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