I think it was a comment on here from Liz a few weeks ago. I asked what everyone was reading and Liz's reply was The Forsyte Saga.
It was all enough to send me to the shelves to find my aged Penguin editions ...
6/- (shillings each...30p in new money) Christmas presents and it would seem I read these two volumes and no more back in 1968.
I idled across to You Know Where to look for the DVD of the original TV series. I can't be the only one with vivid memories of this...
The Forsyte Saga was shown in twenty-six consecutive episodes between January and July 1967... just imagine the BBC commissioning such a high-risk and lengthy project nowadays. And it was high-risk, but who could have predicted that the country would grind to a halt on a Sunday evening and even stop going to Evensong rather than miss it. Those were the days when people did still go to Evensong on a Sunday, and even though the vicar valiantly changed the service times and cut the sermon short we still bunked off as a family to watch. By the time I left another church choir thirty years later we often felt we were singing our laboriously rehearsed anthem to fresh air.
The Forsyte Saga equals Eric Porter (Soames) Kenneth More (Young Jolyon) Nyree Dawn Porter (Irene) and Susan Hampshire (Fleur) for me; all so deeply etched in my imagination and with a hint of that teenage envy of Susan Hampshire's retrousse nose, her natural beauty and silk-smooth complexion still evident. Incidentally I now discover the nose achieved by plastic surgery but I forgive all.
Sadly the DVD box set was prohibitively expensive on the day I looked, £50 (cheaper ones now I see) but to my surprise there had since been a miniseries in 2002 that had completely passed me by. I hope you all read miniseries as an odd sort of churchy word too, one that might mean pastoral duties or something, because I do and it took me a moment to add a hyphen of my own and create a mini-series starring Damian Lewis, Corin Redgrave, Rupert Graves and other acting nobility. I must have either been very busy or had my head in a bucket of sand to have missed it.
Anyway I sent for a copy of that thinking it might be good to catch up and then turned to the book...free on Kindle... maybe I'd read a few chapters just for old time's sake, because I have to confess that The Quincunx has temporarily defeated me at page 500 or so. I will return to it one day and it could be argued I was ready for anything that wasn't the misery of the Mellamphys, but two hours into The Forsyte Saga I was thinking I hadn't read such a good book in ages, what a pleasing surprise.
I know Virginia Woolf had a good old dig at John Galsworthy, and probably in the context of the time was perfectly entitled to do so, but I have to say the whole thing is suiting me fine...
It is June 15th, 1886 and the family are gathered at Old Jolyon's to celebrate the engagement of his grand-daughter June to architect Philip Bosinney and quite by coincidence it is June 15th when I start reading The Man of Property.
'Pickled in these pages it lies under glass...here it rests preserved in its own juice.' says John Galsworthy of his creation, and this formidable family unit, the' upper middle class family in full plumage,' is paraded before the reader with the potential for much confusion.
Ten senior Galsworthy siblings and twenty-one cousins to be identified and sorted out. Twins, maiden aunts, reclusive brothers, gossipy sisters, it's all a joy, not as difficult as it might seem and greatly enhanced and enabled by a photocopy of the family tree stuck in my notebook.
More about The Man of Property to come because the revelation is how differently I am reading it now. It seems obvious, I mean I have forty-eight more years of life in-between, but it still never ceases to amaze me.
And then a really nice thing happened, as seems to happen quite often in relation to the Tinker at the moment. I was pottering about in Tinker's Cott and, though I had sorted the bookcases and the DVDs and thought I knew what was there, I obviously hadn't been paying attention because there it was...
A bit paint-spattered but the complete boxed set of the original 1967 series, two episodes in and I might be addicted.