The Silver Spoon (The Forsyte Saga) by John Galsworthy

The Silver Spoon by John Galsworthy is close to the end of the long Forsyte Saga series. In fact I thought I only had Swan Song to read now but I see that there are a few other books which involve Forsytes. It has taken me a good wee while to work my way through them all, despite the fact that I really loved the series. I sort of came to a standstill because I wanted to stumble across a nice old copy of The Silver Spoon as all my other books from the series are old ones, but I gave up and purchased an omnibus edition, not my favourites as they are so big and heavy, so awkward to read.

Anyway to the book. The Silver Spoon of the title refers to the one which Fleur Forsyte was born with in her mouth – as the saying goes. The First World War is over and the survivors aren’t having an easy time of it – unless they’re rich, plus ca change! Fleur is the only child of Soames Forsyte and has been spoiled rotten by him. She freely admits that she must get whatever she wants and with a personality like that it’s quite amazing that Fleur comes across as likeable as she does. She’s a calculating character but she knows it and good manners often save her from being ghastly.

Fleur’s husband Michael Mont has become a Member of Parliament, Fleur is perfect as a politician’s wife, in fact the whole thing was her idea and she’s making a career for herself as a political hostess building up a ‘salon’ and collecting the right sort of people.

This book is mainly concerned with a court case which comes about entirely because Soames overheard one of Fleur’s guests slagging Fleur off at a party. Being old-fashioned he demands an apology and the whole thing snowballs.

Poor Michael Mont whom Fleur has married on the rebound due to not being able to get the man she wanted, has realised that although Fleur is outwardly gorgeous she really has no soul and is completely self-centred.

The Forsyte Saga is really a sort of soap, like most family series I suppose and there’s plenty in the way of scandal and dysfunctional family members to entertain the reader.

I watched the first BBC dramatisation of the books when it was first shown on TV way back in 1967, looking back I think I was too young to have been watching it but my parents never quibbled. One particular episode scandalised the nation, or at least the tabloid newspapers! But I loved it even although it was in black and white and when I read the books it’s those old actors that I imagine as playing the parts. So Fleur is the lovely Susan Hampshire, now better known by younger generations for her part in Monarch of the Glen, still looking beautiful in spite of her age, and Soames is Eric Porter.

I have that series on DVD as well as the more modern adaptation and I still enjoy the black and white ones, I don’t think that period dramas really date. Although having said that I did see a version of a Jane Austen book from the early 1970s fairly recently and I could hardly believe how wooden the acting seemed. I can’t even remember which book it was, I must have blocked it out as it was so bad!

Anyway, if a nice long series of books involving one family down the generations is your sort of thing then you’ll probably enjoy this series which follows the Forsytes as they live through a fast changing society, set mainly in London.