The Man Of Property
This is the first book in The Forsyte Saga, a series of nine novels and some short stories, which chronicle the affairs of the eponymous family. The opening story is set in the late 1880s and was written in 1906, so it can be considered a historical novel for both then and now.
The Forsytes are a large and wealthy London family, and are truly representative of the Victorian growth of the mercantile, upwardly-mobile classes characterised by the acquisition of riches and influence through hard-nosed, ruthless and inflexible ambition. The plot centres on the marital problems between Soames and Irene Forsyte, and Irene’s scandalous affair with Philip Bosinney, an architect who is engaged to Soames’ cousin, June Forsyte. The disturbance this causes to the family and the threats to Forsytean stability and propriety are chronicled by John Galsworthy in prose that is a kind of light-Trollopian in style, with the omniscient and dry-humoured narrator observing the stiff-necked foibles of the Forsyte eminence. There is a family tree included in the book, which is certainly a necessity for the opening chapters, when a veritable cascade of Forsyte, with ten ageing brothers and sisters and their respective families and their relationships can drown the less than fully attentive reader.