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The Forsyte Saga
updated 2.6.2006

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Just wanted to shout out to other Forsyte Saga fans that I so love this show! I'm not usually into these kinds of shows, but this one really got my attention. Amazing plot, an incredibly talented cast, and the locations are so beautiful. Anyway, just wanted to send some love to all of you working in the cast of The Forsyte Saga. We love your work in Denmark.

Nasli A.
Horsens, Denmark




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Gina McKee is perfect! I am astonished that some of your contributors should think otherwise. I agree wholeheartedly with those who consider her perfect; she is! It causes me deep sadness that this sensitive and profoundly talented actress didn't get to play Virginia Woolf in The Hours; that would have been another perfect role for her. She would far have outshone Nicole Kidman's "award-winning" performance; of that I am certain. What on earth was that casting director thinking of, I wonder?

Trisha Gierke
Durban, South Africa




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I truly enjoyed watching The Forsyte Saga. I think the casting and performances are excellent. In reading the posts it is clear to me that there is a love-hate relationship with most of the main characters, and I believe this is one of the successes of the series. I think Galsworthy intended the novel to bring about such feelings in the reader.

Thinking about being a young woman in the 1870's, one realizes it must have been very limiting; women did not have many options for self-support or preparation for the work force. Many comments posted relay a lack of care for Irene. There are comments that Soames loves her, but that she doesn't give much effort to save the marriage. I'm not sure that his feelings for her are true love, but rather that they are feelings one might have for a cherished object. Buying someone jewelry doesn't make up for a seething personality. Soames is so controlling and possessive; he is repulsive to Irene, especially when he forces himself upon her in a most selfish manner.

Irene seems to me to be a beautiful soul trapped in a cold façade; she looks out at all the false people around her and struggles to hold her own. As she grows into an artistic person, she seems to be drawn to more genuine individuals: June, young Jolyon, his father and Bosinney. I can't blame Irene for falling for Bosinney or for Jon. I like her directness and don't consider her to be manipulative in becoming part of these men's lives; I think they just recognize and appreciate her genuine spirit. She does seem on the surface to always benefit from her relationships, but she enriches the lives of those she loved too. Whether she is right or wrong to get involved in these relationships I think is secondary to examining the spirit of the characters and why they are drawn to one another.

I love the costumes, which are refreshingly authentic, and the settings are breathtaking. Robin Hill is glorious and is furnished with accurate Arts & Crafts furnishings. My favorite scenes are in the Paris cafés with the dancing; it's like stepping into a painting. The piano duets are delightful throughout the series. Well, enough said! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and hearing mine on this lovely series.

Danielle L.
NJ




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Personally, I think that Irene does hate Soames. He gives her everything and still she doesn't like him. But she shouldn't have had an affair with Bosinney! Everybody says that Soames's maid should have helped Irene when Soames was raping her. However, I think that she did the right thing by not getting involved.

Ellis Minatee
Glassboro, NJ




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I didn't see the earlier version of The Forsyte Saga, (one, artistic, visual interpretation of Galsworthy's book) but I think the current version, starring Damian Lewis and Gina McKee, is superb. All the actors and actresses are believable and authentic; they so humanly and realistically portray their respective characters.

I think Gina McKee is a perfect choice for the elusive, beautiful and mystical Irene. Obviously she had come from a repressive, constrictive background, which was probably the norm for women of her time. Her stepmother, a cold, calculating, acquisitive and domineering woman obviously had no feelings for her, and one wonders if Irene's father had any either. Irene seems compelled to obey, and initially I don't think she possesses the internal emotional resources to resist her stepmother's insistence that she marry Soames. It is not presented to her as a choice, but rather as an edict. The door of her father's home is shut against her, and she is left standing out in the rain; she feels she has no choice but to comply even though, in her heart, she realizes compliance will be her undoing.

I don't think there is subterfuge and artifice in Irene. Soames has a similar personality to Irene's stepmother. He is egotistical, arrogant, domineering and he lacks empathy for anyone but himself. It is not just Irene to whom Soames demonstrates his unfeeling, unloving nature. When his second wife Annette's life is in jeopardy during the birth of their child, Soames is content to let his wife die so that he might have a child (in his own image.) As Annette later recounts, he married her only so that he could have children; he did not love her.

In stark contrast to Soames, Irene is artistic, spontaneous and has a profound depth of feeling that is hidden beneath a compliant and passive exterior. With Soames, she can only be a beautiful possession and never become the person that she has the potential to be. I don't think, when Irene encounters Bosinney, that she has any intention of spiriting away June's fiancé. The love between them just happens. Their artistic natures and their mutual love of beauty merge and result in a very deep love for one another. In Bosinney, Irene finally glimpses her own reality. The smile on her face when she is dancing with him at the party reflects her supreme inner joy at finally being loved, understood and appreciated for who she is. She looks radiant.

With Bosinney's death, Irene is plunged back into despair and reduced to her former "mechanical" state. Because she has known love, she can no longer tolerate a return to a loveless life. She again leaves Soames, and this time she does possess the inner resources and self-confidence to strike out on her own. To go back to Soames would be suicidal and she knows it. Her eventual turn to Jolyon, a kind-hearted and more mature version of Bosinney, is inevitable. Jolyon gives her the freedom to be herself and he delights in the sensitive, fragile and spiritual person she is; the beauty she brings to his life far surpasses her physical beauty. I do think, as far as appearances go, that Irene is absolutely beautiful, possessing the classical and enigmatic looks of a Mona Lisa. It is no wonder she won the hearts and affections of so many men, and without guile or artifice as some have suggested.

I have watched Masterpiece Theatre productions for over twenty years, and I think they are wonderfully executed and exceptional, but I think that this one is the best of all. I am so appreciative to PBS for sponsoring this type of programming which is not offered on other television networks.

Sandra Markham
Clinton Township, MI




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I really love The Forsyte Saga. My mom and I were at home channel surfing when we fell upon this show and it was love at first sight. We watched it every week, and never missed a single show. I am currently reading the book, which I totally adore. Thanks SO much for making this show!

Amy She
Arcadia, CA



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