A sweeping book by playwright and author John Galsworthy, about the changing fortunes of an English upper middle-class family, circa 1886-1920. The "saga," first printed in 1922, consists of three previously published novels plus two linking short stories - the latter of which each focuses on a single character in the story. Of note is how the opening of the franchise to universal male suffrage brought upon major political changes, including the introduction of an income tax that affected greatly the middle and upper classes, as well as the 1909-11 showdown between the House of Lords and House of Commons, and how these changes affected the behaviour and fortunes of the characters. The main focus, though, is on the central player, Soames Forsyte, and his inability to win the affection of his wife, Irene - as well as the conflict between arts and beauty on the one hand, and love (especially the unrequited kind) on the other.
If one thinks of the multiple plot strains of the average soap opera, they are multiplied by a factor of several in what happens in this book. Definitely not a one sitting book, but this follows in the tradition of writers like Cervantes and Tolstoy, and it proved to be Galsworthy's magnus opus - indeed the work that won him the Nobel Literature Prize, that he was never able to collect due to illness.
(The Oxford World's Classics edition includes an editor's introduction plus copious notes dealing with references to art, pop and political culture of the time the book was set, translations of French phrases which frequently populate the story, as well as numerous dictionary definitions for words which were in common use at the time of original publication but are quite obscure today.)
Wonderful series of 3 books and 2 interludes that chronicles 3 generations of the Forsyte family, especially contrasting those who love property with those who love beauty.
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