Friday, March 27, 2009

The Longest Book

My sister got me the Forsyte Saga for Christmas, and I'm still reading it - I'm up to page 620 so at least the end is in sight. When I was younger, I could probably have polished the whole thing off in a weekend. Now I am in my mid-late 30s, I can't read novels for very long without falling asleep. I have turned into my mother who has always blamed her inability to read on the fact she falls asleep - I used to be scornful of her, but it looks like some dormant gene has kicked in and now it's happening to me!

When I do manage to stay awake though, I find the world of the Forsyte Saga to be oddly comfortable and reassuring. I wish Bethseda who are responsible for those massively complicated role playing computer games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion 4 would turn it into a game so I could get lost in it. It is set around the 1900s, mainly in London, and is about a wealthy family. They're very concerned about respectability, and a lot of the storyline is driven along by loveless marriage and the far-reaching repurcussions of it. There's one woman in the book who practically all the central male characters fall in love with, although you rarely get to see things from her point of view. Compared to a lot of contemporary fiction the pace is pretty slow, but you do get to care about the characters in a weird way. There's one bit where an old man dies and his dog starts howling, and I was practically crying myself. I guess if a book makes you cry, then you know it's got you to the end. The story is set over about 50 years, so it's interesting to see characters age and notice new technologies - with motor cars gradually replacing horse-drawn carriages. In the 1920s, some of the older characters seem horrified by the manners and dress of the younger people, who are viewed as disgraceful. I wonder what the Forsytes would make of any British town centre on a weekend.

1 comment:

Lost Boy said...

Speaking of sagas, I'm greatly missing Jamie4U. Any plans for a revival?