The Silver Spoon is an easy introduction to one of the most durable writers of the 20th century.
There’s no need to have read earlier books in John Galsworthy’s three-trilogy Forsyte Chronicles (Spoon is the fifth book of the nine) to follow the story.
The Silver Spoon by John Galsworthy
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926. 320 p. 1926 bestseller #6. My grade: A-.
In 1924, Fleur and Michael Mont move in a London circle that prides itself on its lack of moral prejudices.
When Fleur’s father overhears a woman make disparaging remarks about Fleur at one of her parties, he makes a scene. Instead of protecting Fleur, his defense makes her social group snub her as ridiculously old-fashioned and hypocritical.
Fleur is determined not to be thwarted in her social ambitions as she was thwarted in love.
Michael knows Fleur is merely fond of him. He has thrown himself into politics in hopes of influencing England’s future since he cannot win his wife’s love.
Although usually described as a social satirist, Galsworthy writes with both realism and compassion.
He likes his characters, even though he sees their faults. He loves his country, too, though he sees its flaws.
Like Fleur, England has a silver spoon it’s unwilling to give up.
Contemporary readers may wonder if the same might be said of America.
©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni
One More River is a poignant period piece about durable people and enduring values. The ninth and final novel in John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Chronicles, One More River has less bite than the earlier novels.
The story swirls around the divorce action Sir Gerald Corven brings against his wife, Clare, and a young man who fell in love with her as she fled her husband. Coming from a family that loathes publicity, Clare refuses to explain even to them that Corven is a sadist, leaving her sister, Dinny, to handle the unpleasant details.
Dinny has experience with unpleasant details. She’s still aching from losing her lover to a public scandal, but she nonetheless exerts herself to soothe and support her family.
Although all the Charwells rally around Clare, it’s Dinny they most care about. They want to see her married, and even select a suitable man, Eustace Dornford. After Dinny learns that her lover has drowned in Siam, she begins to see the family is right.
Galsworthy’s people are ladies and gentlemen. Clare aside, the characters are not vivid, but durable. Seeing them, readers can understand why tiny England was able to command an empire on which the sun never set.
One More River
By John Galsworthy,
Charles Scribner’s, 1933
My grade: A
© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni