The action takes place in London in 1886-1887. In the house of the old Jolyon family celebration, a reception in honor of the engagement of Miss June Forsythe with Mr. Philip Bosini. There are many guests, the family is very numerous. Within the Forsyte clan, as in society, the law of competition reigns, the six brothers – Jolyon, James, Swithin, Nicholas, Roger and Timothy – compete, which of them is richer. Their father, “Proud Dosset,” from the farmers, arrived in London at the beginning of the century, worked as a mason, contractor, and built houses. He had ten children, and everyone is still alive, the next generation counts already twenty-one young Forsyte. The family now belongs to the top of the British bourgeoisie, among its members are financiers,
Old Jolyon is trying to build a relationship with his son, Father June, whom he has not seen for fourteen years. Then young Jolyon in the name of “unauthorized”, according to the Forsyth norms, love left the family, he lives modestly, works as an insurance agent, writes in watercolor. The father, having arranged a seemingly casual meeting at the club, invites the son to him, then visits him, and his grandchildren, the kids Jolly and Holly, take over his heart.
The son of James, Soames, is not well off in the family, although he hides it in every possible way. Forsytes perceive his wife as something unusual and alien to their circle. Golden-haired, dark-eyed Irene is like a pagan goddess, she is full of charm, is distinguished by refinement of taste and manners. After the death of his father – Professor Aaron – a young girl was left without money and in the end was forced to concede to Soames, a year and a half stubbornly sought her hands. She married without love, believing the fan’s promises that if the marriage was unsuccessful, she would have complete freedom. Already at the very beginning of her marriage, Irene realized what a mistake she made, she was burdened by a closed sphere, where she was given the role of a beautiful thing, possession of which harbors her husband’s self-confidence. The coldness of his wife and undisguised dislike for him bring Soames to frenzy.
Successful in affairs, Soames instructs Bosini to build a new country house in Robin Hill. He is increasingly concerned about the sympathy that has arisen between his wife and the young architect, gradually evolving into a mutual deep feeling. In vain Irene starts a conversation about divorce, the husband believes that he has the right to own the wife, and does not intend to indulge her with extravagance. Four years ago, Soames was captured by Irene’s exhilarating beauty, and he does not want to part with what has been conquered, June is hard at the change in relations with Philip, feeling that it’s embarrassing and painful with her.
In the house of Timothy, where his unmarried sisters Anne, Esther and the Dowager Julie live, and where the rest of the family often visit, Soames’s position and Irene and Bosini’s relationships, which are increasingly seen together, become a topic for gossip. Somsa has long been annoyed that during the construction of the house Bosini admits expenses in excess of the estimate, he intends to sue and recover damages in order to ravage the ragamuffin. Irene is alienating him. One night, when the novel Irene and Bosini was already in full swing, Soames manages to finally insist on his rights, to break the resistance of the one who was his lawful wife. The next day, George accidentally becomes a witness of a meeting of lovers, where Irene talks about what happened, and then, out of idle curiosity, watches Bosini, who rushes through the city in great excitement,
Old Jolyon remodels his will, restoring his son to inheritance rights, he is satisfied with this deed, regarding it as revenge of time, misfortunes, interference of strangers in his life and the contempt with which they rewarded his only son for fifteen years.
At the court, where Bosini is absent, a decision was made to satisfy Soames’s suit against the architect. Irene leaves the house without taking any things and jewelry. Soames can not be reconciled to the idea that she will leave his life. Present at the court hearing, June hurries to notify Philip and support him, meeting in his apartment with Irene, she expresses to her all that was boiling, this woman, with whom she was once on friendly terms, broke her life.
Old Jolyon informs his relatives about the intention to collect them all under one roof. June begs his grandfather to buy Soames’s house in Robin Hill or at least pay the suit. It turns out that on that ill-fated day, Bossini fell into the omnibus in a fog and was crushed to death.
Young Jolyon perceives what happened as the first crack in the stronghold of Forsyth well-being. Somsa oppresses depression. Suddenly Irene returns to the house, like a wounded beast in his hole; driven, lost, she can not understand how to live further, where to go. Old Jolyon sends her son out of sympathy, maybe Irene needs help. But Soames, declaring that he would not allow himself to interfere in his family affairs, slammed the door in front of him.
Last summer of Forsythe. Interlude
It takes four years. Old Jolyon bought the ill-fated home of his nephew Soames and settled there with his family. June with her father and stepmother went on a trip to Spain, and the old man, bored, awaits their return and willingly indulges the fantasies of the grandchildren who remained with him. He likes to sit in the shade of oak in front of the terrace of the house, admiring the beautiful view. The beauty of nature finds a deep response in his soul, here in Robin Hill, he ceases to feel his age, and yet he is already eighty-five.
Walking in the May day in the neighborhood, old Jolyon meets Irene, who goes to these places where she was once happy. He involuntarily succumbs to the charm of this extraordinary woman, invites her to dine, visits her modest apartment, they together visit the opera. Irene bribes his warmth, affectionate participation, pleases the opportunity to talk about the deceased beloved. If earlier, old Jolyon was homesick, now he is waiting for the return of his son and June almost with fear. As he explains this strange friendship, apparently, will have to admit to being an old man, to surrender to the mercy of cares and love. But he can not stand if he can not take the opportunity to see Irene. He lives by these meetings, and not by the past, as people of his age. On a hot July day, on the eve of the return of relatives, in anticipation of Irene’s arrival, he falls asleep in his chair with eternal sleep.
In the loop
The novel takes place in 1899-1901.
In Timothy’s house, which is a sort of foresight exchange, there is still an exchange of family gossip and quotation of family actions. The older generation of Forsytes has thinned out, there is no longer Anne, Suisina, Susan, Roger dies. Native all can not calm down about the almost secret funeral of old Jolyon, who died in 1892, that first changed the family crypt in Highest, having ordered to bury himself in Robin Hill. And to think only – left by the will of fifteen thousand pounds Irene – the escaped wife of his nephew Soames. Then the rights of the old Jolyon for the title of true Forsythe collapsed once and for all. And Soames’s capital grew unusually during these twelve years of lonely life, during which he took little interest.
His sister Winfried has the misfortune: her reckless husband Montague Darty fled with a Spanish dancer. He was considered a “dandelion” in the family, he never liked money for money and despised Forsytes for their enthusiasm for investments. Darty always appreciated the money that they can buy “sensations,” Winfried, whose family life has been quite difficult all these years, is in turmoil, no matter what, she is still accustomed to treating the unlucky husband as her property. How to stay at forty-two years of age with one of four children! Soames refers to a sister with participation, both of them in the ridiculous position of undecided Forsytes. Such uncertainty is especially troubling for Soames recently. He is increasingly worried about the idea that he does not have an heir. He looked for a suitable option for a new marriage – the twenty-year-old Frenchwoman Annette, the daughter of Madame Lamet, the owner of the restaurant “Brittany” in Soho. Soames is engaged in the preparation of the divorce proceedings of the sister, and he himself does not mind as soon as possible to dissolve the marriage, which actually ended twelve years ago.
Young Jolyon is experiencing a period of success, he is in the forefront of watercolor artists, his paintings are well bought up. June, always taking a hot part in the fate of those who find it difficult to take care of future geniuses of the artistic world, dreams of purchasing an exhibition salon. After the death of his father, Jolyon is a very wealthy man, he has been a widower for several years. Quite unexpected for him is the visit to Robin Hill Soames, who was accompanied by his 19-year-old nephew Bela Darti. The young man is going to study in Oxford, where the son of Jolie Jolly is studying, it would be good for young people to get acquainted. From the first meeting, Val falls in love with Holly, who reciprocates with him. Soames informs Jolyon of his intention to dissolve the marriage with Irene and asks him to mediate in this case.
Jolyon goes to Irene, who has not seen twelve years. A great impression is made on him by the noble beauty of this woman, over which time is as if imperious. People who do not live are well preserved, she remarks bitterly and readily responds to the offer of divorce. But Soames will have to take the initiative. How strangely paralyzed the life of both of these people, reflects Jolyon, as if both are in a loop.
Soames visits Irene to force the divorce case, and is forced to admit that this woman still cares for him. He leaves her house confused, confused, with pain in his heart, with a vague anxiety. His next visit, he timed to the thirty-seventh anniversary of the birth of Irene, brings a diamond brooch as a gift. He agrees to forget everything, asks her to return, give birth to his son. As a whip blow sounds the answer: “I would rather die.” In an effort to get rid of the harassment of her ex-husband, Irene goes abroad. Soames appeals to the detective agency with an order to establish surveillance for her. He justifies himself by the fact that he can not continue to stay in the web, and in order to break it, one has to resort to such a vile way. Jolyon goes to Paris, where he meets with Irene, his belated passion goes into a strong feeling. And afterwards, Soames himself goes to Paris with the intention of once again breaking down the resistance of Irene, her unwillingness to accept a reasonable proposal and create a relatively tolerable existence for himself and him. Irene is forced to hide again from his persecution.
At the hearing on the lawsuit Winfried decided to restore the marital rights. Calculation of Soames, that this will be a stepping stone to the divorce of her sister, is not justified, after a while the subdued Darthy returns home. The wife agrees to accept it.
The Boer War broke out. June is getting ready to become a sister of mercy. Jolie learns that Val and Holly are engaged. He has long been disliked by a young scoundrel who cares for his sister. To prevent this alliance, Jolly tips Val also to volunteer for the front. Holly, along with June, also travels to Africa.
After the departure of the children, Jolyon feels oppressive loneliness. But here comes Irene, and they decide to join their destinies. During his stay in Paris, and so accumulated defamatory Irene information that Soames intends to use at the trial. Since he unreasonably tries to blame her, it will be wiser to cut the knot, to support his version. Jolyon is seriously worried about the news of the death of his son, who died in a foreign land from dysentery.
There is a divorce case on which Soames finally finds freedom, there is no defendant, Irene and Joliot travel around Europe. Six months later, the wedding of Soames and Annette is celebrated. Val and Holly were married in Africa, Val is wounded and asks grandfather James to buy a piece of land and a farm there so that he can breed horses. For Soames is another blow: the native nephew married the daughter of his rival, Irene is born a son, which brings Soms new suffering. He and Annette are also expecting offspring. But the hope of an heir is not justified, a daughter is born, who is given the name Fleur. Annette’s birth was heavy, and she would not have more children. A dying father, who has long dreamed of a grandson, Soames has to lie, that he has a son. And yet, despite the disappointment, he feels a sense of triumph, a joyful feeling of possession.
The action takes place in 1920. Jolyon is seventy-two years old, his third marriage lasts twenty years. Soames is sixty-five years old, Annette is forty. Soames do not like the soul in her daughter, Fleur completely filled his heart. With his wife they are absolutely strangers, people, he does not even care that around Annette the wealthy Belgian Prosper Profon is seen. He does not know much about relatives now. The aunts died, there is no longer a Forsyte exchange, of the older generation there was only Timothy, who because of the manic fear of infection for many decades was almost invisible to the other Forsytes, he is one hundred and one years old, and he fell into senile dementia. Val returned, selling a farm in South Africa, and bought an estate in Sussex.
Soames has become an avid collector, he understands the paintings is not limited to knowing their market price. Once in the showroom, owner of which is June, he meets Irene with his son. To his great displeasure, Fleur and John are getting acquainted. Soames then has to explain to his daughter that they are with this kin in a long feud.
Fleur and John accidentally find themselves together at a party with Val and Holly. Among the idyll of rural nature, their romance is tied. The hosts in every way avoid talking about the causes of hostility – this was the instruction of Jolyon.
Soames is alarmed by his daughter’s infatuation. He gives a clear preference to another of her admirers – Michael Mont, the future owner of the title and land possessions, persistently seeking her favor. He constantly inspires Fleur that he does not want to have anything in common with that branch of the Forsyte family. Irene is also concerned, trying to separate the lovers, she takes her son away for a couple of months to Spain. June, guarding the remaining alone Jolyon, rebukes his father in cowardice, it was necessary to tell John everything as is. If young people really love each other, why make them unhappy in the name of the past.
Fleur finds his father’s photos of a young woman, in whom Irene learns, and is plagued by guesses that behind all this lies. Monsieur Prophon willingly reveals her family secret. Soames persuades Fleur to back off, nothing will come out anyway, those two hate him. How terrible that Fleur inherited a passion for her son Irene. But his feelings have been thirty-five years, and their acquaintance lasts only two months. He advises his daughter to leave this madness, which is certainly not going to end well.
Jolion is getting worse every day. Sensing that a serious conversation with his son might not take place, he wrote a letter to John, where he tells the whole truth about the past and demands to part with Fleur. If he does not finish this love, he will make his mother unhappy until the end of her days. A cruel, dark past falls on John, but he does not have time to explain his father, Jolyon dies. Upon learning of his death, Soames regards her as retribution: for twenty years his enemy enjoyed being robbed of his wife and home.
Fleur shows tenacious tenacity. She still manages to persuade my father to go on a visit to Irene. Again Soames at Robin Hill. Here is the house built for him and Irene, a house whose builder was destroyed by his family hearth. It’s ironic that Fleur can enter into it by the mistress. Irene shifts the decision to John. The same resolutely declares that between him and Fleur all is over, he must fulfill the death wish of his father. Although Soames is pleased that this unnatural, in his opinion, marriage will not be and that he returned his daughter, even at the price of her happiness, he can not overcome bewilderment and vexation: his daughter, these people, too, rejected.
Fleur gives at last the consent to marry Michael Mont, however, not giving a kind, deeply experiences the happened. A lavish wedding is celebrated, the young people go on a honeymoon.
Timothy dies. On the memorable foresight house there is a sign: “Let’s lease”. The auction sells items to which there are few hunters, as they do not meet modern taste, but Soems has so many memories with them, he thinks bitterly that the last comfort of the old world disappears. Soames enters the gallery, where watercolors by Jolyon Forsythe are on display. Here, the last time he sees Irene – John bought land in British Columbia, and she leaves for her son. The house in Robin Hill is for sale.