My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have fallen in love with Galsworthy's writing. This third novel of the Forsyte Saga confirmed it. Few can describe a setting as well as he does. Few have such a subtle wit. And, most importantly, few writers convey human emotion as powerfully, subtly, and authentically as does Galsworthy.
When I had reached the 2/3rds points, I had the paradoxical emotions of wanting to hurry on to see how the story ends . . . and the desire to slow down and savor the remaining moments, not wanting to leave off these characters.
However, I thought the novel weakened in the final chapters (or maybe I was just too tired and distracted last night when I was finishing?). I had intended to give it five stars and declare it my favourite of the saga. The final chapters seemed melodramatic and sentimental.
One of Galsworthy's daring choices, is to make Soames Forsyte the central character of the saga, despite a wide array of vivid characters to choose from. Soames disgusts us, for many reasons, but particularly his sense of entitlement. Yet, we feel his hurt, comprehend his reasoning, and gain some sympathy for him.
It was also an interesting choice how Irene is presented. She is ideal beauty and object of desire and passion throughout the saga. Yet, unlike most of the other characters, she is never fully formed for us. Rather, we mostly experience her through the desires and observations of others, mostly, but not exclusively, men. It was a decision that allows Irene to become an object or ideal for the reader, rather than a complete person. But this is done precisely to demonstrate how she was treated as such in middle class British culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There are six more novels in the Forsyte Chronicles. They will be on my list.
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