Summary of The Man of Property (the Forsyte Saga)

The Forsyte Saga
The Man of Property
Galsworthy’s trilogy – The Man of Property, In Chancery, To Let – concerns an upper middle-class English family and traces, through the story of a group of related characters, the changing aspects of manners and morals from the Victorian age to the period between wars. In his preface john Galsworthy points to the general theme of the series – the disturbance that beauty creates in the lives of men, as exemplified by the story of Irene.
The story:
In 1886 all th he Forsytes gathered at Old Jolyon Forsyte’s house to celebrate the engagement of his granddaughter, June, to Philip Bosinney, a young architect. Young Jolyon Forsyte, June’s father, was estranged (no longer connected with) from family because he had run away with a governess, whom he had married after June’s mother died.
Old Jolyon complained that he saw little of June. Lonely, he called on Young Jolyon, whom he had not seen in many years. He found his son working as an un nderwriter (someone who makes insurance contracts) for Lloyd’s and painting water colors. By his second wife he had two children, Holly and Joly.
The family knew that Soames (June’s cousin) had been having trouble with his lovely wife, Irene. She had a

profound aversion (strong dislike) for Soames, and had recently reminded him of her premarital stipulation (part of agreement) that she would have her freedom if the marriage were not a success. In his efforts (attempt) to please her, Soames planned to build a large country place. Deciding that June’s fiancé would be a good choice for an architect, he bought an estate (area) at Robin Hill and hired Bosinney to build the house.
When Soames made suggestions about the plans, Bosinney appeared offended, and in the end the plans were drawn as Bosinney wished. As the work proceeded Soames and Bosinney argued over costs that extended to the original estimate.
Once a day Swithin Forsyte, Soame’s uncle, took Irene to look th he house. Bosinney met them, and while Swithin dozed (slept lightly) the architect talked to Irene alone. That day Irene and Bosinney fell hopelessly in love with one another. Irene’s already unbearable life with Soames became impossible. She asked for a separate room. There were new troubles over the house. Bosinney had agreed to decorate it, but if he had a free hand. Soames finally agreed. Irene and Bosinney began to meet secretly. As their affair progressed, June became more un
nhappy and self-centred. Finally Old Jolyon took June for a holiday. He wrote to Young Jolyon, asking him to see Bosinney and learn his intentions toward June. Young Jolyon talked to Bosinney, but the report he made to his father was vague (unclear).
When the house was completed, Soames sued Bosinney for exceeding his highest estimate and Irene refused to move to Robin Hill. When the lawsuit over the house came to trial (court), Soames won his case without difficulty. That same night Bosinney, after spending the afternoon with Irene and learning that Soames had forced himself on her, was accidentally run over. Irene left her husband on the day of the trial, but that night she returned to his house because there was no place else for her to go. June persuaded her grandfather t buy Robin Hill for Jolyon’s family.
A short time after Bosinney’s death Irene left Soames permanently, settled in a small flat, and gave music lessons to support herself. Several years later she visited Robin Hill secretly and there met Old Jolyon. She won him by her gentleness and charm, and during that summer she made his days happy for him. Late in summer he died qu
uietly while waiting for her.
After this separation from Irene, Soames devoted himself to making money. Then, still hoping to have an heir (the property or title got after other person death), he began to court a French girl, Annette Lamotte. At the same time his sister Winifred was in difficulties. Her husband, Monty Dartie, stole her pearls and ran away to South America with a Spanish dancer. When he decided to marry Annette, Soames went to Irene to see if she would provide grounds for his suit. He foundthat she lived a model life. While visiting her, Soames realized that he still loved her and he tried to persuade her to come back to him. When she refused, he hired a detective to get the evidence he needed.
Old Jolyon had willed a legacy (property) to Irene, with Young Jolyon, now a widower, as trustee. When Soames annoyed Irene, she appealed to Young Jolyon for protection. Irene went to Paris to avoid Soames and shortly afterward Young Jolyon joined her. His visit was cut short by Jolly, who announced that he had joined the yeomanry to fight in the Boer War. Holly in the meantime had fallen in love with Val Da
artie, her cousin. When Val proposed to Holly, he was overhead by Jolly, who dared Val t join the yeomanry with him. Val accepted. June then decided to become a Red Cross nurse, and Holly went with her. Monty Dartie reappeared unexpectedly. To avoid further scandal, Winfried decided to take him back.
Soames went to Paris in a last effort to persuade Irene. Frightened, Irene returned to Young Jolyon. Before they became lovers in deed, they were presented with papers by Soame’s lawyer. They decided to go abroad together. Before the departure of Young Jolyon received word that Jolly had died of an enteric fever during the African campaign. Later Soames secured his divorce and married Annette. Val married Holly, to the discomfiture of both branches of the family.
Irene presented Jolyon with a son. When Annette was about to give birth to a child, Soames had to choose between saving the mother or the child. Wishing an heir, Soames chose to save the child. Fortunately, both Annette and the baby lived.
Little jon grew up under the adoring eyes of his parents. Fleur grew spoiled, by her doting (loving) father.
Years passed. Monty Dartie was dead. Val and Holly were training race horces. One day in the picture gallery Soames impulsively invited a young man, Michael Mont, to see his collection of pictures. That same afternoon he saw Irene and her son John for the first time in twenty years. By chance Fleur and Jon met. Having decided that he wanted to try farming Jon went to stay with Val Dartie. Fleur also appeared to spend the week with Holly. Jon and Fleur fell deeply in love.
They had only vague ideas regarding the cause of the feud (anger) between their respective branches of the family. Later Fleur learned all the details from Prosper Profond, with whom Annette was having an affair, and from Winifre Dartie. She was still determined to marry Jon. Meanwhile Michael Mont had Soames’ permission to court (date) Fleur. When Soames heard of the affair between Annette and Prosper, she did not deny it, but she promised there would be no scandal.
Fleur tried to persuade Jon into a hasty (done in a hurry) marriage. She failed because Young Jolyon reluctantly gave his son a letter revealing the story of Soames and Irene. Reading it, John realized that he could never marry Fleur. His decision became irrevocable (cannot be changed) when his father died. He left England at once and went to America, where Irene joined him. Fleur, disappointed, married Michael Mont.
When Timothy, the last of the old Forsytes, died, Soames realized that the Forsyte age passed. Its way of life was like an empty house – to let. He felt lonely and old.

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