0597 | The Forsyte Saga | John Galsworthy

0597 | The Forsyte Saga | John Galsworthy post image

Context: read this while we visited Japan and did something I never did in 6 years living there: watch sumo!

The last book of 2017 is the one and only book of the year that reaches the lofty heights of the 90%+ rating needed to enter Arukiyomi’s Hall of Fame. And deservedly so. This study of a Victorian family was one of the best portraits of generations that I have ever set eyes on.

From start to finish, the writing is excellent. At times, it is utterly sublime. I don’t think I will ever forget the passage at the end of The Indian Summer of a Forsyte. If you are looking for writing that will move you to tears with its beauty, try that out.

But the writing is so much more than that. Galsworthy has given us a quintessential study of the Victorian age as the sun begins to set on empire and the values that formed it. The characters of each generation are vividly brought to life, and through them, you live in another age.

At the pinnacle of Galsworthy’s achievement sits the character of Soames Forsyte. Rarely have I felt so many different emotions for a character over the course of a novel. He is at once repellent and yet also so very human I couldn’t help avoid the realisation that he was, at least in some aspects, every one of us.

One of the most memorable things about this book is that my wife and I read it to each other over the course of more than a year. We lived the saga together and shared our thoughts. This was a perfect book to read along with someone else because there’s just so much to reflect on and enjoy.

And while Galsworthy writes beautiful descriptions and detailed characters, he also makes sure you are satisfied for plot. As Soames dominates much of the proceedings, there are plenty of others who populate the novel whose sub-plots keep you occupied.

This is a majesterial novel which perfectly captures the spirit of the age it focusses on and does so in the most engaging way possible.

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