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Book review: Three trilogies by John Galsworthy

Among the books I recently inherited were three volumes by John Galsworthy, which had been passed down from a grandparent to my parents. These books are family sagas spanning the years from 1886 to the 1930s. John Galsworthy wrote them between 1904 and 1932. The language is somewhat different from modern UK English, especially where colloquialisms are used. Galsworthy lived from 1867 to 1933.

Three green volumes with gold lettering supported by bookends with globes depicting old maps of earth
Book covers have changed since the early 20th century

The Forsyte Saga is the first volume consisting of The Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let, with interludes between each novel.

A Modern Comedy includes The White Monkey, The Silver Spoon and Swan Song , also with interludes between each novel.

End of the Chapter comprises three novels: Maid in Waiting, Flowering Wilderness and Over the River.

I began reading the series on 11 March, interspersing it with other books, and finished it towards the end of June.

This was my second attempt at reading The Forsyte Saga. During my teenage years a TV serialisation was broadcast, but we did not have a TV set at that time. A well-meaning friend of the family sent the first two paperback books as presents for the youngsters in our family. They sat reproachfully on our bookshelf for many years having been opened, but not read beyond the first few pages. I now realise that there was little in the content of relevance to such young people. What readers gain from any book depends to a large extent on the knowledge they already have. Court cases, marital difficulties and having a house built are outside the experience of teenagers. Indeed for many adults these are vicarious experiences.

The Forsyte Saga begins on 15 June 1886 and Over the River ends in the early 1930s. The many changes in attitudes, dress, transport and government are the background to these serious novels with some gentle humour, notably in the choice of some names. There is a strong awareness of the social problems of the times. Although the books are set mainly in London and the Home Counties, there is some travel and descriptions of the wider world. In The Forsyte Saga there is an extensive family tree, which folds out. An extra generation has been added to a similar one in A Modern Comedy.

By the time End of the Chapter is reached the central characters are no longer Forsytes, although they do have some interaction with members of that family. Forsyte is the surname of a family, but Galsworthy also used ‘Forsytes’ to represent all middle class persons with capitalist tendencies. The inheritance of family wealth has a strong influence on characters and events.

The religious views and changes in attitudes during the time span of the series are occasionally touched upon. Apart from one or two clergymen, who seem to act more from a sense of duty, and perhaps compassion for the underprivileged people in their parishes, than from religious conviction, there is little faith among the characters. At the time Christianity was often seen as something to agree or disagree with intellectually. The theory of evolution was used as a major argument against Christianity, not that it should have been in my opinion. There are one or two glimpses of characters, whose appreciation of spiritual matters is a little deeper than that of the majority. Several of the characters display a background knowledge of Bible stories. Church-going and teaching of scripture in schools was usual at the time.

As in any saga there is joy and sorrow. The character and decisions of older generations affect the lives of younger ones.

I found the series fascinating and well worth the trouble of reading three tomes with thin paper and rather unfamiliar language. There are many sentences, which are quotable even without their original context.

These books are available from the usual places and also on Project Gutenberg and Kindle.

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Book review: The Voice

The Voice: A story about faith and trust by R.W. Metlen is a picture book for adults. A friend lent me a copy. It is a book, which can be read in a few minutes, but the message may linger in a reader’s mind for much longer.

The Voice well deserves the 5 star reviews it has on a well-known book-sellers website. As always I recommend buying books from ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops!

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Reflecting on life, blogging and writing on International Bloggers’ Day

At the beginning of 2021 I picked the word ‘Focus’ for my word of the year. At first I kept reminding myself to focus on one thing at a time and to keep my goals in sight. Recently I realised I had forgotten about the word, but am finding that I am developing new habits. One is to eat less in an attempt to lose a little weight and help my hip and knee joints!

I am also trying to spend less time on my computer. A writing friend, Deborah Jenkins, blogged about whether life interferes with writing or writing with life. I had perhaps reached a stage during lockdown where life was put on hold, while I wrote!

Now with lockdown having eased somewhat I am doing more outside the home. There is less temptation to go online, although there is always my phone…

I have also set myself some goals in the house and garden, which will take time away from writing, but may also provide some new ideas.

The reason I missed two weekend posts on this blog was a lack of prompts. I am aware that there were more important things in Linda Kruschke’s life than setting poetry challenges. Her return to blogging resulted in a more personal poem from me.

Meanwhile there is a poetry competition I wish to enter this month. I have been working on my entries for it. I also entered a limerick competition for the Evesham Festival of Words.

The A to Z Road Trip, which I signed up for, is another project I have been neglecting. Perhaps I need to add it specifically to my to-do list. Does anyone else forget to look at their to-do lists? I make mine at times when I know I have a lot to do and at other times when I am uncertain what to do. They give me some motivation, but then I stop looking at them.

I have been enjoying working with writing friends on posts for their blog tours to promote new books.

One of my new habits is to read less. While Goodreads is encouraging everyone to read more, I have decided that I need to be more active with gardening, spring-cleaning and to read less. You may have noticed that my latest bookish posts have included a single book rather than several. I have a backlog of books to write about, though.

With arthritis affecting my thumbs I have taken a break from knitting. My sewing projects have been more masks. Even when they stop being essential, there are probably times when they will be useful in the future. I find that they help prevent my hay fever, but I cannot always wear my specs with a mask. Fortunately I can see reasonably well without them, but if it is sunny I need the light-sensitive lenses, which are also helpful for hay fever and protect my eyes.

Then there is email correspondence with friends to keep up with. While people have not been mixing socially this has been particularly important.

It is seven months since I have been more than five or six miles from home. Our walks have all been done without travelling to a starting point by car or train.

There is still uncertainty in the UK about when it will be ‘safe’ to reduce the measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid. It makes scheduling in-person meetings for any purpose difficult. An announcement from the UK government is expected the day this post will be published.

I continue to spend time in Bible reading and prayer every morning in my quiet time before breakfast. I also try to find time to play the piano, mainly playing worship songs or classical music.

In a few weeks time I’ll have been blogging for 9 years. Blogging, and particularly reading other people’s blogs, has taught me a great deal. I have learned more history and geography, more about life in other countries, found new books to read and made new online friends, some of whom I met in person before 2020. Then there are the allocated days for so many causes!

I was alerted via Twitter to International Bloggers’ Day by an A to Z Challenge participant, Narayana Rao.

The bloggers I have mentioned in this post are in the UK, the US and India – international bloggers!