TFS: The Man of Property,(Interlude) Indian Summer of a Forsyte,
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I finished reading The Man of Property yesterday too.
Here are my impressions. Since this novel is so character driven, I've decided to talk about them rather than the plot or style:
Soames - poor fellow! What a dilemma! I am disappointed in him however. He had such potential for growth: his love for his wife, his love of art, his willingness to make things better... all miserably failed with that dreadful lawsuit. Galsworthy says it best (of course!): "in that moment of emotion he betrayed the Forsyte in him - forgot himself, his interests, his property - was capable of almost anything; was lifted into the pure ether of the selfless and unpractical.
Such moments pass quickly." For shame...
Old Jolyon - he definitely had an easier task at hand - who can't look good reconciling with his son? Nonetheless he did a splendid job of it and seems to have extended that new-found selflessness to Irene. He's my favorite so far, but it looks like he's declared war on James (looking forward to In Chancery!)
Bosinney - victim of circumstances? perhaps... I liked the fact that he is a creator of houses rather than an owner of one - it makes for a clever parallel and an added dimension to the Soames feud. There are some very neat opposites between the two, professionally, physically, psychologically - the list is long.
Irene - predictable. I find that she's not very likable. Surely if she married without love she should have expected this antagonism. I agree with the Forsytes that she sure didn't try very hard.
I'll finish with young Jolyon whom I expect we'll hear more of in the later novels. He seems to be a sympathetic chap despite his abandoning June. I'm curious to see if he'll resist the call of property now that he's back in the game.
I'll be looking forward to your impressions!
Message 2: Cecilturtle
Thanks for your comments.
You sound so compassionate. To be able to say-
'Soames - poor fellow! What a dilemma! I am disappointed in him however. He had such potential for growth'
sounds so caring and thoughtful.
It speaks so beautifully of your own life view.
Soames – Though I do feel sorry for him, I can’t help but think that he should have known better than to marry Irene when she so obviously didn’t love him. We are told that she recoils from his touch, and then inexplicably the next time he proposes she accepts him. If she finds him repulsive before they are married, why does her request for separate bedrooms after they are married come as such a surprise to him?
I also (reading this as a woman in the 21st century) do not like the fact that he see her as a beautiful possession. However, I do believe that he loved her, at least in the way he was capable, and that he would have tried to make her happy if she had given him half a chance. I don't think Soames is a bad person, though he seems a bit cold.
Irene – I would like to know the rest of her story. Why did she finally accept his proposal after rejecting him for so long? What happened in between? I also think that since she evidently decided that she had to marry him (for whatever reasons: money, security?) that she should have accepted responsibility for the consequences and tried to make her marriage as happy as possible considering the circumstances. Marriages of convenience were not uncommon back then, were they?
Old Jolyon – My favorite character. He seems to be more in touch with his heart than most of the other Forsytes. I really felt sorry for him, sitting alone in that big house of his, missing June after she got engaged. Old Jolyon seems to understand better than most of his family that money and possessions aren’t everything, and that they don’t make you happy. He craves relationships, and when he has regrets about losing his son, he does something about it though he knows his family will not approve.
Bosinney – I never did decide whether I liked him. He seemed to be trying to take advantage of Soames financially while seducing his wife. Not exactly admirable.
June -- I hope that her story is continued, because I never quite decided whether I liked her, either. I don’t feel like I really got to know her very well in this book.
I'm still reading part two of The Man of Property. Finished chapter 7 - "Afternoon at Timothy's"- yesterday.
I think I know some of the characters quite well already, and I mainly agree with the comments in # 2 and # 4.
I'm not sure yet if I feel sorry for Soames ("poor fellow").
And shinyone: Old Jolyon is my favorite character (so far) too.
What happened to Bosinney? Was it suicide or was it an accident?
Is Young Jolyon a dreamer (what will he do when he heirs to his father?) and what will happen between Young Jolyon and Irene (I think I KNOW, cf. #5)?
A real cliff-hanger at the end of The Man of Property (I haven't read the interlude yet, but I will SOON. Promise), and I assume there will be more of them... Exciting.
'Some things had been lost sight of.
And first, in the security bred of many harmless marriages, it had been forgotten that Love is no hot-house flower, but a wild plant, born of a wet night, born of an hour of sunshine; sprung from wild seed, blown along the road by a wild wind. A wild plant that, when it blooms by chance within the hedge of our gardens, we call a flower; and when it blooms outside we call a weed; but, flower or weed, whose scent and colour are always wild!
And further-the facts and figures of their own lives being against the perception of this truth-it was not generally recognized by Forsytes that, where this wild plant springs, men and women are but moths around the pale, flame-like blossom.'
I find the above quote quite striking for several reasons:
1)The quiet beauty of the style and substance of the quote.
2)How the viewpoint reverberates throughout the entire book, and indeed the entire trilogy of trilogies.
3)How it comments on Galsworthy's own marriage.
Poor Balthasar at the end of this interlude!
I feel I'll have to start reading In Chancery immediately.
shinyone: great way of describing Galsworthy’s style. I agree. And I love how Galsworthy writes without hurrying: he’ll take the time to set up the characters and scene and it ended up just perfect. Some comments on the characters and your previous comments.
Soames: I wanted to like him, but he was so horrible, I couldn't. I just didn't think he was sincere in loving his wife, given how he treated her. I mean, I know it was a tricky time: he was quite in between the two generations.
young Jolyon: love him. I think he is the only real human in the story so far. I loved his analogy of the zoo.
Bosinney: cecilturtle called him a “victim of circumstance”. I’m not sure about that. He was definitely getting in over his head with the Forsytes, but I’m not sure he was particularly smart to start war with them: surely he could make a house within the given dollar amount! Kind of asking for trouble. And why of why would he desert June? How did they ever meet anyway? I wasn’t sure about that relationship to begin with.
Old Jolyon: I loved him, especially in the interlude. I loved that interlude. So touching to think of a lonely old man wanting beauty out of life still! Even though the world had changed.
shinyone, I agree that Irene’s story was mostly untold. She didn’t try hard. I wonder why she let the marriage happen, because as you said, surely she’d know it would end badly?
kjellika, I loved consulting the family tree! But I also like knowing which direction things are going, and I often read the last page first, just to see how it ends. I’m weird I guess.
I think Bosinney killed himself. What did he have to live for? He’d started war with a “clan” and he’d been ruined. He’d never truly be happy with Irene and he was an unappreciated artist. No place for him.
billiejean, I felt sorry for Irene, although (as I say above) I think she was foolish to start a loveless-marriage when she did have a choice about that. but the no-show piano lesson in the interlude? She was confused because Old Jolyon was being so nice but she feared (rightly) seeing June again. She was very lonely for much of the time!