Books - Review

Showing all books by: Anthony Trollope

Can You Forgive her?
The main plot concerns Alice Vavasour, who begins the novel engaged to worthy Mr. John Grey, but she breaks this off, and becomes re-engaged to her cousin George, a hopeful (but poor) prospect for the House of Commons. But George's true colours eventually show through, and Mr. Grey's persistence and faith in Alice eventually pays off. Other sub-plots include Lady Glencora's relationship with both her new husband and her old lover, and wealthy Aunt Greenow's enjoyment of her widowhood, playing off two suitors against each other.
Terrific. Really enjoyed reading this. Mostly, I guess, for the fascinating plots, well-told story, and excellent descriptions - the characters themselves, while fairly believable, didn't really generate any real affection, although I did like Lady Glencora for being so rude about people. Great fox-hunting scene, and the bit where they read the will was very exciting!
Score: 8.5
Published: 1865
Read: January 7th 2003

The Warden
Mr Harding is the Warden of Hiram's hospital, and he receives 800 pounds a year (from Hiram's 400 year-old will) of which only a small proportion goes to the 12 charity-case inmates. Mr Bold proposes to rectify this injustice and begins legal proceedings, but it gets complicated as Mr Harding basically agrees that it seems unfair, and also Bold loves Eleanor, Harding's daughter. Harding is attacked from his own side too, by his son-in-law, Grantly, who wants to defend every penny of church income, and does not want Harding to concede anything...
Very enjoyable, although I was surprised no-one ever seemed to seriously suggest just giving a bit more of the income to some other needy people.
Score: 7
Published: 1855
Read: January 19th 2009

Barchester Towers
The nasty Mr Slope arrives in Barchester, the new hen-pecked bishop's chaplain. He starts throwing his weight around and annoys just about everybody, but specially Eleanor who he tries to woo, and therefore Mr Harding and his fans. More too-ing and fro-ing over the appointment as warden to Hiram's hospital, and when the incumbent dean dies, there's a deanery up for grabs too!
Great stuff, lots of clerical intrigue and maneuvering with some great characters, including bossy Mrs Bishop, the evilly shallow Signora and Slope himself of course!
Score: 7.5
Published: 1857
Read: February 26th 2009

Dr. Thorne
Frank Gresham is set to inherit his father's ever-increasing debts, so is badgered by all around him to marry money. But he falls in love with Dr Thorne's niece, Mary, the bastard child of the doctor's brother and Mary Scatcherd. Mary is lovely but poor, but their love prevails, and just at the end guess who inherits stacks of money from the alcoholic Scatchard men who conveniently die of liver poisoning...?
Great, really good story, super characters, and even if the ending is a bit predictable, you still want to cheer when Mary finally gets both the bloke she wants and all the dosh.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1858
Read: April 1st 2009

Framley Parsonage
Lucy Robarts, 5ft 2in, and rather brown, goes to live with her brother, the parson Mark Robarts. Mark and his wife Fanny depend on Lady Lufton's patronage, but she is a bit put out when her son, Lord Lufton, falls for demure (but clever and lovely) Lucy, who of course, is far beneath him in station (and height). At the same time Mark is struggling to cope with his 'friend' Sowerby's constant requests for money, and ends up having to deal with the bailiffs when he can't repay the loans he signed his name to on Sowerby's behalf. Dr Thorne, Griselda Grantly, Miss Dunstable, and the Bishop's wife all play great roles too, and we finish up with four weddings!
Excellent, lots of good threads to the story, and the good but poor people end up on top and much richer, as usual. (Especially Dr Thorne)
Score: 8
Published: 1861
Read: April 21st 2009

The Small House at Allington
Mrs Dale and her two daughters, Bell and Lily, live in the small house, gifted to them by Mrs Dale's brother in law, the squire. The squire's son, Bernard, brings his friend Crosbie to stay and he falls in love with Lily and they get engaged. But ambitious Crosbie is hoping the squire will give Lily a dowry and ends up jilting her and getting engaged to the Duchess' daughter instead. But local boy Eames has always loved Lily and he beats up Crosbie at Paddington station, and tries his luck with Lily...
Excellent! And the poor, but beautiful and good girls, end up richer than they ever expected, and one of them at least gets to marry a good man.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1864
Read: April 27th 2009

The Last Chronicle of Barset
Mr Crawley has brought disgrace to his family, to add to the piety and poverty, by apparently stealing a 20 cheque. He gets indicted by the magistrates for a full trial but can his friends uncover the truth before then? Or will Mrs Proudie, the Bishop's wife and her supporters succeed in removing Crawley from his living? And how will Major Grantley, Grace Crawley's admirer, react to the news? And as for Lily and John Eames...
Excellent conclusion, several threads get tied up, and the Bishop's wife makes her final exit.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1867
Read: May 11th 2009

Phineas Finn
Finn goes to London as a trainee lawyer but gets sucked into the world of politics and wins the parliamentary seat of his home (Irish) town. But there's no salary for an MP of course, so he is impoverished depending on his father to fund him, and he gets tempted by various women, Lady Laura, Violet Effingham, Madame Goesler, but ends up with his childhood sweetheart back in Ireland. He fights a duel along the way too...
Score: 7
Published: 1869
Read: May 15th 2010

The Eustace Diamonds
Lizzie hangs on to the valuable diamonds 'left' to her by her wealthy husband (who was pretty old when she married him). Then they get 'stolen', and then actually stolen! Meanwhile Lizzie sort of has a series of admirers, but cousin Frank (eventually) sticks to his first love, the worthy (but very nice) governess...
Great story.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1873
Read: May 30th 2010

Phineas Redux
Phineas returns to the London political scene after his wife Mary dies in childbirth. He gets elected to Tankerville amidst the furore of both bribery (by his opponent) and the thorny issue of church-state reformation. He wins the seat once his opponent has been done for bribery, but while he hopes for a fulfilling and remunerative ministerial post, Mr Bonteen, one of his political enemies, is constantly talking him down, especially in reference to the Laura Kennedy affair... Anyway, it then suddenly gets even worse when Bonteen gets murdered and Phineas is the prime suspect and goes on trial for his life. However Madame Goesler (amongst others) is convinced of his innocence and rushes off to find some useful evidence in Bohemia to demonstrate beyond doubt that the murderer was in fact Emilius - Lady Eustace's (of diamonds fame) ex-husband. So it all works out OK, Phineas gets released from Newgate without a stain on his sofa, re-elected as MP for Tankerville, decides he's a bit fed up with office anyway, and marries the wealthy Madame Goesler, leaving only Lady Laura a bit upset.
Pretty good. Much easier to write the synopsis if you do it the day you finish the book, incidentally.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1873
Read: August 1st 2010

The Prime Minister
There were almost two threads to this one. A rather dull story of coalition politics, and a more interesting one of love, deception, fraud, and inheritance. Connected of course, but only by the overlap of some of the characters in the two threads. Adventurer Lopez sets himself up as a gentleman and manages to persuade Emily Wharton to fall in love with him. Despite everyone telling her not to - she marries him, but quickly regrets it as it soon becomes clear that his main interest is in chiselling money out of her wealthy dad to fund his speculative gambles on the commodities markets. Lopez also attempts to get elected to parliament, but the Silverbridge by-election becomes contentious after the Prime Minister's wife, Lady Glencora interferes against her husband's wishes.
I found I was skimming the politics to get back to the story of Lopez and Emily. Jolly good though. Also this was the first book read on my new Amazon Kindle - a leaving gift from my friends at United Health.
Score: 7
Published: 1876
Read: July 12th 2011

The Duke's Children
The Duke of Omnium has apparently retired from politics and after his wife's death he concentrates on bringing up the kids. However they all cause him endless problems, with Mary declaring she'll never marry anyone except the poor and untitled Treagar, Silverbridge, the eldest son, getting kicked out of Cambridge, changing his political allegiance, losing stacks of money in a horse swindle and getting engaged to an American of all people. Young George was relatively well behaved, just some minor gambling debts and also getting kicked out of Cambridge (but then Oxford picked him up).
Jolly good. Loads of good stuff going on and an excellent hunting accident.
Score: 8
Published: 1880
Read: September 3rd 2011

Lady Anna
Lady Anna is the daughter of the late Earl Lovel. He was a crazy, unpleasant, but wealthy man, and in settling his inheritance, awkward questions were asked regarding the validity of his marriage to Anna's mum. Anna's mum makes it her lifelong goal to prove in law that she was the legal wife of the Earl, and Anna is therefore due to inherit. But in the meantime Anna falls in love with the tailor's son who has helped them in their task and promises to marry him, which annoys her mum no end. Various expeditions of lawyers go off to Italy to try and establish whether the family of the Earl's deceased Italian wife is entitled to anything, and at the same time the Earl's nephew is wooing Anna as an alternative way to try and keep the money in the family. He's a nice chap, and Anna begins to quite like him...
Very good. Excellent plot, great characters, and even the lawyers behave well. Read this in Westeinde hospital during 2nd IVIG treatment.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1874
Read: February 24th 2012

The Way We Live Now
Phew, where to start? Felix Carbury is a dissolute and ever more impoverished baronet who mostly gambles away his mother's money and chases girls. He is persuaded by his mother to pursue a rich heiress and so goes after Marie Melmotte the daughter of the decidedly corrupt financier who has just arrived in London with a murky past. Felix's sister Hetta loves Paul but everyone else wants her to marry Roger Carbury. Paul is honest really, but finds himself engaged to Mrs Hurtle, the forceful American lady who reputedly killed her first husband (with good reason of course). Roger Carbury really loves Hetta, but is best friends with Paul too. And Lady Carbury tries to do her best by everybody but has to keep trying to manipulate newspaper editors to try and get favourable reviews of her rather poor writing. And meanwhile the share price of the Mexico railway goes up and down with the fortunes of Melmotte.
His longest novel, loads of little sub-plots. Some particularly nasty characters and lots of financial shenanigans! Excellent.
Score: 8
Published: 1875
Read: February 18th 2014