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The Forsyte Saga (The Forsyte Chronicles, #1-3)
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2013 Group Reads - Archives > The Forsyte Saga - To Let - Part I

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Silver Book III - To Let

PART I

I.—ENCOUNTER

II.—FINE FLEUR FORSYTE

III.—AT ROBIN HILL

IV.—THE MAUSOLEUM

V.—THE NATIVE HEATH

VI.—JON

VII.—FLEUR

VIII.—IDYLL ON GRASS

IX. GOYA

X.—TRIO

XI.—DUET

XII.—CAPRICE


message 2: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave..." Although Soames and Irene did not set out to deceive their offspring, in keeping them in the dark about their past and continuing to refuse to give them the details of their history, they have certainly set the stage for another "forbidden" romance, following on the heels of Jolyon and Irene, Val and Holly. Interestingly, both of those couples have turned out to have the most solid relationships of almost any we have seen, other than perhaps James and Emily.

I do find Fleur to be a bit overwhelming-I can understand the older generation's unease at the "forwardness" of the new woman. She certainly overwhelms Jon, while also completely taking control of the relationship. Jon seems a lovely young man, who fortunately is able to wear his sensitivity without it being seen as weakness. I had worried earlier about how he would manage at school-his parents seem to have had the sense not to send him to a traditional boarding school, and Galsworthy explains his survival thus (ch. X) "Sensitive, imaginative, affectionate boys get a bad time at school, but Jon had instinctively kept his nature dark, and been but normally unhappy there." I suspect he would be a kind and goodhearted young man who would appear "romantic" to a young woman.

I had to restrain myself from underlying almost all of Ch. IV "The Mausoleum", it was such a brilliant portrayal of Timothy as an aging Victorian almost time-warped into the modern age. The description of Smither-the invaluable servant of which none remain-was brilliant, and the comic poignancy of her explanation of hiding the Great War from Timothy was masterful-I didn't know whether to laugh or weep:
" 'But he's quite deaf. And a mercy, I always think. For what should we have done with him in the air-raids, I don't know.'
'Ah!' said Soames, 'What did you do with him?'
'We just left him in bed, and had the bell run down into the cellar, so that Cook and I could hear him if he rang. It would never have done to let him know there was a war on. As I said to Cook, 'If Mr Timothy rings, they may do what they like-I'm going up. My dear Mistresses would have a fit fi they could see him ringing and nobody going to him.' But he slept through them all beautiful."

It becomes clear when Soames insists on seeing Timothy that he has developed significant dementia and no one in the family has been aware of this, he has been looked after by the two old retainers who never let anyone but the Doctor in to see him.

I felt this was a brilliant portrayal of the "old ways", the aging patriarch, the faithful servants (who also remain faithful to the wishes of their dead mistresses), the old style of house and the old style of behaviour. While it is a positive portrait, it is also a bit chilling that Old Timothy has been left alone with the servants for so long, and no one has actually laid eyes on him. He has the good fortune to be in the care of Smithers and Cook (who clearly have his best interests at heart) although presumably their loyalty is in return for having been treated well by the family.

I am only glad that Soames has the foresight (there's that play on words again) to turn the place into a museum.


message 3: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments And he could have been bombed instead of staying safe in the shelter.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Sep 04, 2013 12:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Rochelle wrote: "And he could have been bombed instead of staying safe in the shelter."

Just finished reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. If her portrayals are accurate, shelters weren't necessarily particularly "safe." (I have had the same impression from earlier readings as well, but she provides dramatic example after example. My current impression is that location may have been more critical than shelter.)


message 5: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
I think this is one of those times when what appears to be the "safe" or reasonable thing to do may not be in that person's best interest-sort of like excessive medical interventions in the last months of someone's life. Perhaps there comes a time when being left peacefully in bed surrounded by familiar things and people and possibly dying earlier is preferable to being carted up and down stairs into unfamiliar and distressing places full of strangers for the possibility of prolonging life. I think, knowing him as well as they did, Smithers and Cook made the right choice for Timothy.


message 6: by Kai (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kai Coates (southernbohemian) | 14 comments Not to mention, Smithers is definitely on the older side. She's been around at least since The Man of Property, so that's 30 some odd years of service at least. Trying to hustle a cantankerous and confused old man down to the cellar might have been fairly difficult work. I thought she was remarkable - taking such loving care of Timothy even though one of the aunts had "taken care of her" and he had not. Of course, I don't think she's doing it just out of the goodness of her heart - it's her job and I would think the work should be fairly easy since he never leaves his room and no one visits. But still, she seemed very dedicated to making sure he was well looked after.

So far, I'm not crazy about either Jon or Fleur. I can't imagine them making a very good pair - she's so quick to deceive and he's so uncomfortable with it. I think everything is a bit of a game to her, and Jon is helplessly romantic and sincere. I found it odd that Irene believed Jon's romantic nature would make it impossible for him to understand that she had married once without love. It seems he would be much more understanding about why she couldn't have stayed married. I wonder what she is more afraid of telling him - about the divorce or about Bossinney?


message 7: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Douglass | 3 comments Well, I started quite late, but I've finally caught up!
Has anyone heard of the trope, or character type, known as the manic pixie dream girl? I think Fleur may have started the trend!
Also, I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed how Jon has grown up. I had high hopes for the little naked boy painting himself blue and yellow! His interlude was my favorite, and I think, most comical of the book! Yes, there were Oedipal tones, but I was honestly more disturbed by the fact that Jon couldn't remember what Irene looked like. That seems a bit mysterious to me.


message 8: by Linda2 (last edited Sep 10, 2013 07:04AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments >the manic pixie dream girl

I don't know, but I think Fleur's a breath of fresh air.


Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...

Thought of our story here when I saw this Google headline today. The sadness, the tragedy of not just walking away from anger. But why there in the first place? Then, we can only guess at the feasibility of walking away, a la Irene in her bedroom.


message 10: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments Darn! Irene could have just pushed him off a cliff or thrown him under a carriage or a train.


message 11: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Rochelle wrote: "Darn! Irene could have just pushed him off a cliff or thrown him under a carriage or a train."

I guess there is an argument in the text as to whether something similar was done to Bosinney.


message 12: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments When Soames told his clerk to evict an 82-year-old woman, I was reminded of Ebenezer Scrooge. And the clerk is the perfect yes-man for him.


message 13: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments I've come to the last few chapters, and I now agree that Fleur is indeed a manipulator. She has her mother's charm and shrewdness, and would probably be a good businesswoman today.

I'll wait till more of you catch up.


message 14: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder So far, I am enjoying this book more than the others. Fleur is a breath of fresh air. I love her liveliness and her quick thinking. She is such a contrast to the aunts in the first book.


Silver ☯Emily wrote: "So far, I am enjoying this book more than the others. Fleur is a breath of fresh air. I love her liveliness and her quick thinking. She is such a contrast to the aunts in the first book."

Yes I really enjoyed this book a lot Fleur is a large part of that reason.


message 16: by Lily (last edited Sep 25, 2013 09:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments It seems to me that Fleur can be played at least two ways -- as a sweet, lively, savvy young woman or as a willful younger gentler version of her father.


message 17: by Linda2 (last edited Sep 26, 2013 09:15AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3742 comments ☯Emily wrote: "So far, I am enjoying this book more than the others. Fleur is a breath of fresh air. I love her liveliness and her quick thinking. She is such a contrast to the aunts in the first book."

Catch her on the video of the recent TV series, if you have access. She's played by a delightful actress with an ethereal quality, but who can carry on repartee very well for someone that age.


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