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The White Monkey (The Forsyte Chronicles #4)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  643 Ratings  ·  44 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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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: audiobooks, fiction
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
Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya

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
Libros Prestados
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Y con este libro empieza una nueva saga de los Forsyte, que sigue justo donde terminó la anterior, con Fleur casada.

En este caso, tenemos menos Forsytes en la historia, salvo algún momento "estrella invitada". Todo gira en torno a Fleur y su marido y el mundo artístico que los rodea. Bueno, también está Soames. De nuevo, Galbraith evita pintarlo como un villano unidimensionaly muestra compasión por él. Sigue cayéndome mal, pero es de agradecer que Galbraith construya personajes tan bien perfila
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
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: c20th, literary
This first part of the second of three (!) trilogies concerning the Forsytes does not have the epic sweep or grandeur of The Forsyte Saga. Many of the more dynamic characters of the previous books are marginalized or not present at all, leaving us with Fleur and Michael, and her father Soames.

The plot revolves around the question of Fleur's affections. Her husband, Michael, well remembers Fleur's sudden turn-around considering his suit and knows that her love for him, if there at all, is more o
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
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.
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
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: england, 2014
«Что у нас неладно? Мы активны, умны, самоуверенны — и все же не удовлетворены. Если бы только что-нибудь нас увлекло или разозлило! Мы отрицаем религию, традицию, собственность, жалость; а что мы ставим на их место?»

Ох и долго же шла у меня эта книга. Спасибо Косте за вдохновение, без него я бы не смогла закончить "Белую обезьяну".

При всей моей бесконечной любви к "Форсаге", поколение Сомса \ Ирэн \ Джолиона шло у меня намного легче. Мне интуитивно более близко мышление тех времен викторианской
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
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
K.M. Weiland
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This new trilogy is a different animal. It's not the Forsyte Sage - and thus the Forsytes themselves are pretty thin on the ground. It's not as tight in its presentation of character. But it is an interesting and intellectual (and cynical, surely, but also ever so gently humorous) look at the Roaring Twenties from the perspective of the war-torn young people trying to make sense out of life. It ends more happily than previous installments in the series (which I suspect is but a calm in the storm ...more
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
In the first book of the second trilogy in the Forsyte Chronicles, Galsworthy gives us Soames in the autumn of his life enduring the Jazz Age. His daughter is now married, flitting about, ‘collecting’ interesting people and filling her home with everything but babies. Life seems to have taken on an unreality after the Great War and the younger generation seems determined not to take anything too seriously. That is unless you are of the lower classes. In The White Monkey the reader is introduced ...more
Took me a while to get into this one, and, thus far, I have not found A Modern Comedy to be as engrossing as The Forsyte Saga. I missed the rest of the Forstyes, and thought the novel would have been stronger if it included them, particularly the Jolyon Forstyes. These have always been books about all of them, and this felt a little thin. I also missed the heavy focus on Soames, my favourite anti-hero; found the Bicket subplot tiresome; and didn't love the heavy focus on Michael and Fleur.
Sylvia Massara
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love the Forsyte Saga. In the saga, the author takes us through 4 generations in the family and all its intrigues, loves and hates. I love reading the classics, only the authors back then got a bit too wordy, using lots of prose and not enough dialogue to convey sentiment.

How times have changed. These days it's "Don't tell but show". In those days, it was "Tell with long descriptions" :) Even so, a great read.
Mike Jensen
Unfortunately, the fourth Forsyte book does not have a plot, but is a collection subplots that do not add up to a satisfying story. The symbolism of the title painting is rather obvious because Galsworthy explains exactly what he means. Still, some rather unlikable characters have learned from their mistakes in the previous books and we rejoice in their redemption. Besides, it is a Forsyte book, damn it. It probably does not deserve three stars, but I love it three stars worth.
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John Galsworthy 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 sought to promote intern
More about John Galsworthy

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!” 6 likes
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