Bye-bye, Poldark! & Reading The Forsyte Saga

Bye-bye, Poldark!

Bye-bye, Poldark!

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.

forsyte-saga-john-galsworthy-paperback-cover-artThis 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.

I have this set, only with the third trilogy included, The End of the Chapter.

I have this set, with the The End of the Chapter included.

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.

Forsyte Saga Penguin NewAnd 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.

Jolyon says,

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,, 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!

10 thoughts on “Bye-bye, Poldark! & Reading The Forsyte Saga

    • Thank you for the other link! I am not familiar with Liz’s blog and am always happy to have a new one to check out (since many on my blogroll are now moribund!) Yes, the new Poldark is not for me. I HAD looked forward to it, but the books are better.:)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kat, there is a third trilogy which has far fetched links with the Forsytes. It is set in the 1930s and deals with cousins of Fleur’s husband, the Cherrels (am not sure about the spelling). It is published by Penguin just as the following of the cover you show in your blog. I have started reading it this winter and it is on my list for this summer. I did not stop because I did not like it but because I had to think about it. It may be thought duller than the previous two trilogies but it reflects the changes occurring in the English society at the time and the role the “lower upper classes” (the backbone of England) was to play in this new society. I found it very interesting and it sometimes captured the lyrical prose of the Interludes in the first trilogy, mostly the one about the death of Old Jolyon. Well worth reading but too often forgotten.


    • Camille, I have read that trilogy and do like it very much. The image I found on the internet just shows the first two books: it must have been a tie-in with the early days of the first series. Glad to know the Penguins are in print. They are not in the U.S., but we can get them used. I am just starting The White Monkey, so am way behind, but hope to read all of them by the end of they years. (We’ll see!)


  2. I love the Forsytes and have read the whole set twice — once after the original TV series and again last year. The books hold up very well. This time I noticed a shift in tone after the first novel. In The Man of Property, Galsworthy is more openly mocking of Forsytes and their way of life. Then he became more sympathetic, more understanding. I also watched the old TV series again after last year’s re-read. It is so good that I don’t want any other.

    The Poldark (episode 2) distresses me. How could they get Elizabeth so wrong! Demelza isn’t much better. They are changing her costume as they begin to play her up as a sexual object. Whoopee.


    • Perhaps The Man of Property IS the best book! He does become softer. I do love the books, though.

      I am SO disappointed in Poldark. The critics have loved it, and I suppose it will introduce more people to the books. And that’s a good thing!


  3. Yay I am so delighted you love the Forsytes too. They are just so readable. I do hope you enjoy The White Monkey.
    ( I still haven’t watched Poldark though – will let you know how I get on if I do).


  4. I wish I could find time to go back and re-read this entire series. It is certainly among the books that have escaped my cull. I bought the volumes one by one after the 1967 series was first shown and have loved them ever since. I really didn’t take to the later serialisation but when the 67 version came out the nation stopped every Sunday evening to follow what was happening.


    • The books ARE good! We were the same here when it was shown in the ’70s. My friends and I would gather in a friend’s room. She was the only one who had a TV!


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