I now know the difference between a good book and a GREAT one. I have just finished the Forsyte Saga, and my eyes were opened wide. Just prior to that I read a couple of Kate Morton novels which I enjoyed, but let me tell you, sweetie, they just don't stand up in comparison to John Galsworthy's epic masterpiece.
I have owned this book for some time and don't always listen immediately after purchasing them for one reason or another. I give it a try, and then put it down if it's problematic. In this case, I think it was the narrator, Fred Williams. He reads so slowly, however precisely, and I couldn't handle the plodding pace. So, with the new Audible app I sped it up to 1.25% listening speed, And very shortly thereafter I was immersed in 19th century England up to my eyeballs.
What a great story! What compelling characters! I could not get enough of this book. It's over now, and I am sad because I want to know what has happened to everyone. I ran the gamut of emotions listening to this book. When it wasn't possible for me to listen, I was still engrossed. I thought about my own father who was born in 1905 and tried to compare his lifestyle growing up during the Forsyte's timeline. The manners, the morals, the injustices--all so different for my father's generation and for mine. There is simply no comparison to today, a hundred plus years later.
This is a story about a family. Upper middle class, proper and all that, divided so deeply about one way of life (the popular view) and another way (a burgeoning ideal of how life could be) which is rather alien to the establishment. John Galsworthy was born into this upper middle class environment, and gives great detail about how people thought and acted as they did.
Anyway the split in the family grows larger and larger, and then one day, two or three generations down the line, things happen which eventually start the decline of the old view and there it ends, leaving you to guess what happens next.
Such a long, long book, but every single sentence is a keeper. You know what? I eventually put the speed back to 1.00 because I didn't want it to quit. I guess I got used to Fred Williams' narration (or he got better over the course of the book) because I didn't mind at all.
This is a GREAT book, whether you read it, listen to it, or watch it dramatized, and I now know the difference! I actually watched the Netflix version while reading it, and checked out the Gutenberg Project online version of it, looked up the history of the Boer War, and checked out Queen Victoria's funeral. I imagine you will, too, but nothing compares with the book! You have to read this book!
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.
If you don't mind stilted reading and moist breathing reminiscent of someone with chronic obstructive airway disease, then go ahead buy this, otherwise give it a miss. I assume others that have listened to this and given it high reviews do not have decent audio equipment that picks these things up or are listening in noisy areas. It made me feel nauseas and I could not listen beyond chapter 2.
I really loved this book. I think it is so interesting just for the characters and plot, but it is also very interesting historically to learn about edwardian england. The narrator does a great job and is easy to understand and has a pleasant voice. I cannot imagine better value for the money than these many hours of good writing that will engage on so many levels. I have come to care about the characters and what happens to them. I love a long book like this that stays interesting and lets you get to know people over an extended period of time. I wish the other volumes in this audio series were narrated by the same narrator but I am glad to find this book on audible.
I listened to the whole book and did not want it to end despite its length.
The reader is most excellent and skillful. I was also put off at first by his apparently plodding style, but I became quite comfortable and eventually looked forward to it. He managed surprising subtle changes in the characters' moods and dispositions.
Personally, I found myself too much like Soames but I really enjoy this masterful tale of an age at its height and during its passing.
Just wait until you get to the chapters called Indian Summer and the Awakening!
Wait until you hear a boy describe beauty to his mother... Ah feels a little teary-eyed already.
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading. The accent of the narrator added to the authenticity of the characters, and I found myself driving in the right lane to squeeze in a few extra minutes during my commute. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it, and this particular reading is truly outstanding.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
For me Fred Williams' reading was unpleasant and spoiled the story. I did listen to the sample, so I have no excuses. Sometimes my ear adjusts to the reader and sometimes the reader does get better. Not this time.
It is a decent story and I would suggest you look at and listen to other readers/narrators before choosing this one.
Strangely enough, there is not a dull moment in the 42+ hours in this drawing-room saga. I don't remember being so thoroughly entertained by a Nobel prize winner, which almost feels like a guilty pleasure.
I agree with the reviewers who got used to the narrator in half an hour. The voice and tone were pleasant, and the accent very easy to follow. The one quibble I have is that Mr. Williams is like many other narrators who not take the time to consult a dictionary when they encounter a word unfamiliar to them, and follow their "gut" instead.
It takes a while to get into this LONG visit with the Forsyte family, but well worth it if you have the patience. Yes, there are quite a few characters to keep straight, but stay with it and it gets to be easy, almost. Ingenious plot lines and fascinating characters, plus a good long stare into the styles and mores of the upper middle class in England, 1880 - the First World War. The narrator is dry and unassuming, but does justice to the work.