Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy – Classics Club spin #28 and Back to the Classics Challenge

 Maid in Waiting cover

I got Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy in the Classics Club spin number 28, it’s the seventh book in the Forsyte Saga which should really be called the Forsyte Chronicles, and it continues with some of the characters from the previous book and features the Charwell family (pronounced Cherrell). They’re not nearly as well off as the Forsytes as they’ve mainly opted to become church minsters in slum districts, joined the army or become academics.

While Herbert Cherrell, an academic was on an expedition in Bolivia he had had to shoot a muleteer, he got into that position because he had taken to flogging the muleteers for continuing to ill-treat the mules despite his complaints about it. As you can imagine they didn’t take well to being flogged. There’s a possibility that he’ll be extradited to stand trial in Bolivia and at this danger to one of their own, his very clannish family is incensed and set out to pull strings – or in the case of the women to ‘vamp’ men they think might be able to help.

Meanwhile another of them, Diana, is in trouble. Her husband who has been in a private mental hospital for some years suddenly appears back home, claiming to be fine. But he had been violent to her in the past and she’s terrified of him. Again the family comes to her aid. Mental health is quite a theme, was it hereditary or did his experiences during World War 1 turn his mind?

I really enjoyed this one which is quite topical, humans never really change. The Cherrells, some of whom seem very decent, do however have a sense of entitlement and strangely a feeling that they are being held up to higher standards than others simply because of their connections. They see having friends and relatives in high places as a bit of a disadvantage!

It ended a bit abruptly for my liking and I hope that the next one in this trilogy which is called Flowering Wilderness, features Dinny Cherrell as I became quite fond of her, she’s the young mainstay of the family.
I also read this one for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021 which is hosted by KAren K at Books and Chocolate.

4 thoughts on “Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy – Classics Club spin #28 and Back to the Classics Challenge

  1. I don’t remember this one but it is so long ago that I read these books. Maybe I only read the first six? I remember when the first version was on TV and I was not considered old enough to watch with my mother and aunt. Annoyed, I sat on the stairs outside the room with the television. By the time Fleur was a child, I had made it to the couch! I think that must be why Susan Hampshire who played her as a teen and young woman was one of my favorite actresses – she was one of the first I was aware of and I thought she was so talented!

    • Constance,
      I was surprised that I was allowed to watch the original series, I loved it. I would have been 8 years old then!! I bought the DVDs not that long ago so I could watch it again. I think my parents probably regretted letting me watch it when it got to the Soames-Irene bit which caused such a hoo-ha in the newspapers at the time.
      I really like Susan Hampshire too, and she’s a keen gardener, I have a book she wrote about her garden. I liked Nyree Dawn Porter too although I always liked Soames and felt sorry for him, he was described as being a ‘cold fish’ as I recall, but I thought he got a bit of a raw deal! I might be on my own with that thought though!

      • Well, he certainly shouldn’t have raped her but I guess I missed that episode until I read the book so felt sorry for him too! And Fleur wasn’t very nice to him either.

        Irene is just two syllables in the US so I remember being very struck by the way it was pronounced I-teen-ee in the series.

        • Constance,
          There was such a fuss about the ‘rape’ in the newspapers here but it was decorously done as I recall it was just a bit of a tussle at Irene’s bedroom door which she had been locking, then it was all behind the closed door, left to the imagination. It was a time when women were supposed to ‘lie back and think of England’ and for both Irene and Soames it was really a business as she married him to have a comfortable life (as many women still do today such as Melania T) but as a businessman Soames would have felt that she was reneging on the deal by denying him her bedroom, and of course she was not fulfilling her marital duties! In the UK there was no such crime as marital rape until 1992, which seems incredible!
          I only know one woman called Irene and it is just two syllables as is normal here now, maybe in Victorian times it was I-reen-ee, but I’ve always thought that that sounds French.

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