Rating:

103159Reviewed by Maria Kruk

Having read The Forsyte Saga for the first time, I could not believe I really made it. One can agree that the novel looks pretty huge, and the plot captures until the last page is turned over. As for me, it was the first book with so many story lines and characters and, therefore, it could not but alert my modest reader’s demands. The Forsyte Saga features the most of English lifestyle at the turn of the 20th century: people, behavior, manners, clothing, leisure, family traditions (oh, how many chapters are about family commitments!) and, of course, love! There is no wonder this book brought a Nobel Prize to its creator in 1932.

Besides uncovering the secrets of being true Englishmen, The Forsyte Saga emphasizes a contradiction between romantic feelings and a tribute to English cherished morals. There are many plot lines dedicated to romance, including the stories of Irene and Young Jolyon, Soames and Annete, June and Philip, Jon and Fleur, Val and Holly, and many others, occurring in frames of one large Forsyte family tree. Unlike Jane Austin or Charlotte Bronte, famous predecessors of John Galsworthy in the genre of romantic novels, he depicted these couples with less emotional stress, but emphasizing their social standing. It is likely to be the most underlined pillar of English society the author refers to.

If getting back to the plot, it is obvious that contradiction between two family lines, started by Soames Forsyte and his former wife Irene and cousin Young Jolion, chases the following chapters and, thereupon, the next Forsyte generations. Mostly, all the couples are torn between these two, ending up in love affair between Fleur and Jon, who do not understand why they cannot be together and the reasons of multi-year family feud. One can say it is all about love, but not in this case: John Galsworthy demonstrated that love cannot take all the life hardships, or overcome clashes of different characters and even withstand conventional society morals.

The novel encloses the livelihood of four generations of the Forsyte family. As time passes, readers might also observe how the whole state of England advances in various fields; for instance, Galsworthy records the appearance of cars, electricity, dresses without corsets and many others. The Forsyte species change as well; many of the characters reconsider family, love and moral values by the end of the novel.

After finishing the book, I thought it’d be perfect for a TV show that would enclose all the events in detail. To my surprise, there were several film serials in 1967 and 2002, which for now remain a next level of my investigation of The Forsyte Saga.