The Forsyte Saga

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What to expect

The Forsyte Saga chronicles the ebbing social power of the upper-middle-class Forsyte family through three generations, beginning in Victorian London during the 1880s and ending in the early 1920s. The saga begins with Soames Forsyte, a successful solicitor who buys land at Robin Hill on which to build a house for his wife, Irene, and future family. Eventually, the Forsyte family begins to disintegrate when Timothy Forsyte, the last of the old generation, dies at the age of one hundred.

In the three novels (The Man of Property, In Chancery, and To Let) and two interludes (“Awakening” and “Indian Summer of a Forsyte”) that comprise the saga, Galsworthy documented a departed way of life, that of the affluent middle class that ruled England before the 1914 war. Galsworthy’s masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women.

Critics Review

  • “A social satire of epic proportions and one that does not suffer by comparison with Thackeray’s Vanity Fair…The whole comedy of manners, convincing both in its fidelity to life and as a work of art.”

    New York Times
  • “The characters themselves are recognizable and compelling, and Galsworthy still hits his targets—materialism, selfishness, insensitivity, possessiveness—with force and accuracy.”

    Guardian (London)
  • “Richly satirical.”

    Post-Gazette.com
  • “A social satire of epic proportions and one that does not suffer by comparison with Thackeray’s Vanity Fair…the whole comedy of manners, convincing both in its fidelity to life and as a work of art.”

    Anders Österling on White Monkey
  • “[Galsworthy] possesses two essential gifts: storytelling and the creation of character. He also displays the acuteness and tenacity of imagination not only to create an immensely detailed and consistent social world, but to record its inner transmutation over a period of time.”

    Geoffrey Harvey, senior lecturer, Reading University

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