The Forsytes

Suleika Dawson, Author Delta $13.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-385-30849-6
It's been a while since the public television series based on the Forsyte saga lobbed that epic of grasping Victorianism at American audiences and even longer since the three trilogies (plus the odd volume) brought John Galsworthy both fame in his own country and a Nobel Prize right before his death in 1933. Although this is her first book, Dawson does a fine job, continuing to focus on Fleur Forsyte Mont, daughter of Soames and victim of the long-running rift between her branch of the family and that of Irene and Young Jolyon Forsyte. Soames is dead, all the old Forsytes are dead and soon Anne Wilmot, wife of Fleur's beloved second cousin Jon, will be dead too, bringing Jon once more to the forefront of Fleur's thoughts--despite her devoted husband, Michael, and two children. Other incidents rouse old ghosts: of Philip Bosinney's masterpiece; of Montague Dartie's mesalliance; of Wilfred Desert's painful affair; and WWII reminds one and all of the losses of WWI and the Boer War. There may, in fact, be too many ghosts, as it really does help to have read at least the original Forsyte Saga and the subsequent A Modern Comedy (though one can pretty safely skip End of the Chapter). But for those who have and want still more, this is good stuff. Dawson, who has a degree in English literature from Oxford (the similarity of her name to Max Beerbohm's heroine makes this aside irresistible) does a good job of capturing Fleur's self-indulgence, and she's also got plenty of fine description and the occasional humorous moment. If there isn't much of the grand, sweeping statement on sentiment, art or Forsytism, perhaps that's a reflection of the preferences of our time. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Hardcover - 593 pages - 978-1-85619-255-2
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