John Irving writes good, satisfying stories, with good characters. This long book has some great characters but Irving seems to think that all men have breast fixations that just won't quit, and it gets very tiresome. He just won't let up on the breasts, and pity the woman who is underendowed in that department. The story (or interwoven stories) move right along, and aside from one horrific, depressing incident in the later part of the book, it's believable within Irving's frame of reference. The bummer incident could have been modified or reconstructed in any number of ways to be more believable and not give the reader such an unpleasant kick in the pants. (It left me in a shocked, unhappy mood for hours after that part of the book.) Anyway, I do recommend the book, and I did enjoy it, but I bet lots of people will not care for it.
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.
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