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The Forsyte Saga (The Forsyte Chronicles, #1-3)
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1001 book reviews > The Forsyte Saga - Galsworthy

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3895 comments Mod
Audio read by: Fred Williams
Published 1906
Pages: 800
Tags/Categories; 1001 Books, Edwardian Years, England, Family, Marriage and Divorce

Rating: excellent 4.5 ★★★★

Review: This is the story of the Forsytes of England during the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI years and specifically about Soames’ marriage to Irene and how it affects the whole family for several generations. It is an interesting look at a family but also about a historical time and changes that occur. Changes in the roles of men and women, changes in transportation, changes in manners. This is a story which is mostly told through inner dialogue as the family has so many secrets and things they won’t talk about. The audio was well done. The narrator had a nice English accent and was able to give the characters their own voice.

First Sentence: Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the Forsytes have seen that charming and instructive sight--an upper middle-class family in full plumage.

Quotes: When a man is very old and quite out of the running, he loves to feel secure from the rivalries of youth, for he would still be first in the heart of beauty. (indian summer of a forsyte: I)

Last words: And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there--the melancholy craving in his heart--because the sun was like enchantment on his face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind's rustle was so gentle, and the yew-tree green so dark, and the sickle of a moon pale in the sky. He might wish and wish and never get it--the beauty and the loving in the world!

Read: 2014, October/November


Diane Zwang | 1206 comments Mod
Also read in 2014
4/5 stars

I love a family saga story with all the drama that goes along with it. For me this book was about the journey and not the destination. One of the recurring themes for me was women's rights, there was a progression throughout the book. “Women were equal to men nowadays?” I also enjoyed the talk of past, present and future. “If they had a right to share in his future, surely he had a right to share in their pasts.” Overall I liked this book and was glad that I read it.


Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 443 comments This book starts out very slow. A snooty British family, wealthy elites but not aristocratic, more upper-middle class than upper-class, is having issues because one of the girls in the family is engaged to a young architect. The architect is hired to build a house for the girl's uncle, and winds up having an affair with the uncle's young, pretty wife. The story starts out in the late 1800's and society is starting to change towards a world of expanded women's rights and a less rigid class structure, so while the older members of the Forsyte family react with the expected horror and disgust their class ought to feel for scandalous entanglements, the younger members of the family are not so convinced.
Over the next few years even more scandalous things happen, and at the same time the world around the Forsytes is changing more rapidly.
This was a long novel, and it felt long for the first 300-400pgs, but the second half was well paced and engaging. I liked the way this book explored how much society changed over the decades leading into WW1. This book was in fact first published just at the end of WW1, so the book's characters can have no real idea how much their world would be changing once the Great Depression and WW2 had their effects. My copy of this book was printed in 1926, so it was falling apart a bit, but it was amusing to be reading a copy of the book that was printed so close to when the story took place.
I liked this book and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 4 stars

The Forsyte Saga is a three volume novel which tells the story of one upper middle class family in England between the years 1886 and 1920. It is a book about class, gender, marriage, social issues and more. The main character, Soames Forsyte is a lawyer who strives to own everything, especially art and his wife, Irene. His marriage fails because of his actions and this has a significant impact on him as well as on his child.

Book one, titled The Man of Property is about their marriage. Soames is jealous of Irene's friendships, and concocts a plan to move her far from everyone she knows. Irene resists, finds love elsewhere and things get tragic. I loved the second half of this book because things were spiraling out of control and real emotions were at play. Book two, In Chancery, is all about the complete breakdown of their marriage (as well as the marriage of Soames' sister) and the eventual divorces. But this too doesn't go simply. Soames stalks Irene. Both remarry, but neither makes the wisest decision the second time around either. And in To Let, Galsworthy deals with the next generation and the consequences that happen when the wrong two people fall in love.

This book is a fascinating look at time and place for people in the upper middle class. And, overall, I felt the author took a quite progressive, feminist view for his time. The female characters are not as rich and real as his male characters, however he takes a stance that they should have more rights than they did and grants them more power than I have seen in many other books about the same time and place.


message 5: by Diane (last edited Oct 31, 2020 09:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 1996 comments Rating: 4 stars


Overall a wonderfully written book about three generations of a family of the British upper middle class. This is a particulary interesting span of time in that it includes both the Victoria and Edwardian eras, including the time preceding WWI.

While I did enjoy it quite a bit, I don't feel that this was the best time for me to read this book. I have been feeling jaded by books about the British upper class lately. I probably would have rated it higher, otherwise.


Amanda Dawn | 936 comments Just read this one for my TBR. I did like this book, but it's one of those ones that I feel like I respect more than I enjoyed. Currently, I've rated it 3 stars, but it's somewhere between a 3 and 4 and may go up as I think on it.

I did really like how it explored the emerging new money families' need to consume and possess to establish worth. And how, through Soames, we see both the inhumanity (in his rape of Irene) and futility of this pursuit to compensate for actual fulfillment (exemplified through the final lines).

The last part with Fleur and Jon was interesting as well. It just felt while reading it was more "I see what you did there" than "wow".


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