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The Forsyte Saga (Dramatised)

Written by: John Galsworthy
Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins

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Publisher's Summary

The blockbuster BBC Radio 4 adaptation of John Galsworthy’s classic family drama, featuring a star cast including Dirk Bogarde, Sir Michael Hordern, Diana Quick, Michael Williams, and Amanda Redman.

Galsworthy’s epic story chronicles the decline and fall of the Forsytes through almost 50 years of material triumph, emotional disaster, and a terrible feud that splits them asunder. Beginning in 1886, The Man of Property starts with the family wealthy, successful, and united.

But the actions of the arrogant Soames Forsyte and his beautiful wife Irene are to have disastrous consequences. In Chancery has marital discord as its theme, as various members of the family find themselves dealing with domestic dramas, affairs and divorce. To Letsees the second generation experiencing both the pain and the promise of love, as the sins of the father are visited on the Forsyte children.

With an all-star cast of over 30 experienced actors, and enacted over the course of 23 episodes, this thrilling tale of sex, power, and money will enthral you from beginning to end.

©2002 John Galsworthy (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Maria
  • NSW, Australia
  • 2012-06-09

Poor Soames

The Story
Whenever I see or hear a version of The Forsyte Saga, I always feel sorry for Soames.
The much-maligned Soames Forsyte is the character that we are supposed to loathe, as most of the characters in the story do. But I can't. I much prefer him to his smug, watercolour painting cousin, Jolien. Or Jolien's useless windbag daughter, June. Or Irene, the unforgiving hypocrite who married him. Soames and his daughter Fleur have more spunk and personality than the rest of the Forsytes put together. And this story is redeemed by them.
The Performances
The male voices in this production are wonderful. At times when people die, the dialogue is very moving and is beautifully performed. I actually cried. Twice.
As usual, a couple of the female voices let the show down. The oft referred to as beautiful character of Irene is voiced in a dull, low monotone in the mistaken belief that it makes her sound beautiful and ladylike. But she just sounds like a creepy bore devoid of personality or humour. The character of soames 2nd wife, being french, is also voiced wrongly. She sounds like an imbecilic five year old. Poor Soames, if only he could get a wife who could speak like a norman woman. But i'm particularly sensitive to these voice traits, so don't let it deter you from the production. On the whole, it is beautifully done, with love, care and affection by the actors and the producers.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 2010-10-08

Nervous breakdowns galore

I don't know who directed this production, but they must have been going through a bad time in their life because some of the characterization in this series is really over the top. Half the characters speak their internal monologues as though they're Hamlet: Low, dramatic voices with lots of heavy breathing, and there are frequent sound effects of crying children and screaming women (to emphasize the tragic bits).

I've read the Forsyte books and I know they're supposed to be fairly serious, but I feel confident they weren't supposed to be this fraught.

The narrator is good (Michael Hordern, famous for being Jeeves in BBC radio series, among other roles) and the characters who aren't acting like they're having nervous breakdowns are pretty good. And of course the story itself is quite interesting.

I have a feeling that this production was done in the 1970s, when BBC radio actors still took themselves very, very seriously, and no radio show was immune from Acting with a capital A. (There's a weird version of Dorothy Sayers 'The Nine Tailors' which has the same problem - the book is supposed to be funny, but the radio drama comes off as High Drama and Major Tragedy.)

So if you like your radio shows with a nice dose of Macbethian craziness and a fair amount of weeping and wailing, you'll like this. Otherwise, you may find yourself rolling your eyes a lot.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful