Jim Grimsley's Reviews > To Let

To Let by John Galsworthy
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This is the best of the Forsyte saga trilogy, a pleasant surprise, since I found the second installment to be tepid. In this novel it feels to me as though Galsworthy is writing of something closer to his own heart, and the depictions of Jon and Fleur are so very touching. The book made me forget the television adaptation, which has been my problem with reading these novels all along: because the adaptations do not do justice to the original in the case of To Let. Galsworthy writes of the full flush of the young lovers and their feelings with such heartfelt clarity that I followed that part of the novel without effort. As for the rest, his characterization of the period after the war covers a part of English history - well, it was not history for him, it was his world, and that shows from his writing. Nevertheless there is something entirely underwhelming about the experience of reading this book. The world is so very much more lively and varied than anything in these pages. The whole of the Forsyte family feels entirely confined within its definition of itself, and the novel is confined to the family, making the whole exercise claustrophobic. It is tempting to read Soames's nostalgia for the past as Galsworthy's own. It is clear that there are very many fans of these books; I am grateful for the experience of having read them but I would not say more than that. They are not very memorable. In particular, I was wearied by the beautiful Irene and her constant ghostliness. It is as if the symbolic positions of these characters overwhelm their humanity. I did very much appreciate the use of Timothy, and the delicacy of the ending, which is far less sentimental than the adaptations. Far truer, as well.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 31, 2020 – Shelved

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