I turned off the TV after 20 minutes of Poldark. Sorry, I am done. I didn’t even watch Aidan Turner take off his shirt. (Hubba hubba? Somehow not very Poldarkian.) Debbie Horsfield’s adaptation has turned Winston Graham’s intelligent novels into a bodice-ripper historical romance. The dialogue is flat, the scenes are abbreviated, and there is too much brooding on cliffs.
Anyway, on to John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, which I am rereading And, by the way, if you like PBS, both the 1967 TV series and the 2002 series are excellent.
This year two bloggers, Karen of Kaggsysbookishramblings and Ali of Heavenali, are readingThe Forsyte Saga, which consists of nine novels in three trilogies, The Forsyte Saga, A Modern Comedy, and The End of the Chapter.
I rarely participate in readalongs, because I have my own books to read.
But I love The Forsyte Saga!
The first trilogy is in print in the U.S. in editions by Oxford and Wordsworth, but the other two trilogies are not. (Sometimes the e-book versions do have all nine novels, but check the table of contents before you buy.) Headline Book Publishing has reissued all nine books in separate paperback editions (also available as e-books). So if you don’t want used books, that is the way to go with the last six.
Fortunately, I still have my old Literary Guild book club editions.
I just finished the third novel, To Let.
To Let is fascinating and tragic. The Nobel Prize-winning Galsworthy’s style is solid, straightforward and fast-paced, and he is a master of plot and characterization. This is a story of a doomed love affair, that relfects the events of the first two books. Our new heroine, Fleur Forsyte, Soames’s daughter, falls in love with Jon Forsyte, the son of Irene (Soames’ ex-wife) and Jolyon (Soames’ cousin). Fleur is determined to overcome parental objections, but does not understand the past. Neither Fleur nor Jon has been about Soames’ and Irene’s previous marriage. The scandal of divorce was too nightmarish.
And it is a sad story. Many years ago, Irene was pushed into the marriage with Soames, an older man who loved her beauty (art was property to him). She was poor and in despair. She was sexually repulsed by him during their marriage She falls in love with an architect (and Soames rapes her). Soames’ determination to possess Irene drives her away. Jolyon, an artist, protects her from his private detectives, and they fall in love.
Jon’s half-sister, June, who owns an art gallery, tries to intercede on behalf of Fleur and Jon. She thinks her father and Irene are being old-fashioned.
Neither I nor Jon, if I know him, would mind a love-past. It’s the brutality of a union without love. This girl is the daughter of the man who once owned Jon’s mother as a negro-slave was owned. You can’t lay that ghost; don’t try to, June! It’s asking us to see Jon joined to the flesh and blood of the man who possessed Jon’s mother against her will.
Jon wants to be a farmer: he does not think about money, though his father has plenty of it. And he does not think of Fleur in terms of a possession. He loves her passionately. Fleur, however, schemes to get him, even after her mother’s lover tells her about Soames and Irene. She feels sick about it, but doesn’t quite understand, and tries to hide it from Jon.
It ends tragically.
I had a big bike ride planned today, and since I didn’t want to bring my huge book in my pannier, I wasted time trying to find a free edition of the fourhthe novel, The White Monkey, and when that failed, the second trilogy, A Modern Comedy. for the e-reader.
I went to Project Gutenberg, manybooks.net, and Internet Archive. The Forsyte Saga was free: why not the rest?
Because it was published after 1922!
So I can spend $1.99, which I admit is nothing, for an e-book that has all nine novels.
But I decided to read something else on the bike trip and have a $1.99 ice cream instead.
I am looking forward to The White Monkey!