I have finally reached the end of the Forsyte Saga, after taking a bit of a break 2/3rds of the way through.
Although the novel spans different generations and characters, the true main character is Soames. The focus on a character who is obsessed with property and privilege, thinks everyone is wronging him, and has limited emotional capacity, is an intriguing angle. Although Soames is deplorable, his persistence to be loved and admired is endearing. He doesn't do anything to warrant love and is constantly in conflict as to what is wrong with other people. Soames is blind to his own emotional handicaps. As much of the other Forsytes suffer from the inability to express themselves, Soames never admits he has a problem throughout the whole book. Galsworthy portrays Soames in a sympathetic manner, however. I should have disliked him, but I was engaged by his character.
The full circle from the Old Forsytes to the newest generation shows the how the family gets over its fixation on property and things, and moves to the real backbones of life: love. It's no coincidence that Jon and Fleur are opposites of their ancestors. Galsworthy does well in showing the transition.
The writing is very beautiful, especially anything nature oriented. I never found any portion of the story meandering or boring. All the parts fit in nicely and were purposeful. Galsworthy gave much thought and personality to all of the characters in the Forsyte Saga. There are many characters in the beginning, but it is not too difficult to keep them straight after awhile, as only a few are focused on.
I thought it was interesting that even though Irene had such a large part in the story, she did not much perspective from her end. Galsworthy really did stick to just the true Forsytes. I also liked how Fleur was a great anthithesis to Soames's character.
The Forsyte Saga is a great classic because it is dynamic. The main conflict is the family. Everything else is a backdrop.