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Doctor Thorne

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Doctor Thorne – Barchester Chronicles 3 - Anthony Trollope - 1858

Dr Thorne is human, reticent, stern and honourable. He has the strength to stand up to his destructive prejudices and fears of mid-Victorian society but at the same time does not abandon its traditional values. This book is about the problem of a potentially unsuitable marriage.
Even though I like all of the Barchester Chronicles, this is my favourite. Trollope manages to describe the people in his fictive city so well, you think you live among them.

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In Doctor Thorne Trollope moves out of the Cathedral close and gives us a cast of more sympathetic characters

Wikipedia summary:
 

Doctor Thorne (1858) is the third novel in Anthony Trollope's series known as the ""Chronicles of Barsetshire".

It is mainly concerned with the romantic problems of Mary Thorne, niece of Doctor Thomas Thorne (a member of a junior branch of the family of Mr Wilfred Thorne, who appeared in Barchester Towers), and Frank Gresham, the only son of the local squire, although Trollope as the omniscient narrator assures the reader at the beginning that the hero is really the doctor.

Major themes of the book are the social pain and exclusion caused by illegitimacy the nefarious effects of the demon drink, and the difficulties of romantic attachments outside one's social class. The novel also gives a vivid picture of electioneering and all the just-legal shenanigans that accompany the event. Most of the action takes place in a village of Barsetshire and acountry house not far off

In "Doctor Thorne" we first meet one of my favourite Barstshire heroines, Martha Dunstable, shrewd, plain-speaking spinster heiress to the "Ointment of Lebanon" business, inherited from her father, a wealthy patent medicine tycoon.

 

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In reading this novel at this time I have broken my own rule of never reading books by the same author back to back but having just finished Barchester Towers I could not wait for my next Trollope "fix". I have loved the first two books in The Barsetshire series finding Trollope to be both easy to read and entertaining. As I have said about his writing of the previous two novels in the series Trollope writes in a rather humurous way but still manages to deal with real issues. Having read the few comments on this novel I doubt that I am going to be disappointed in the third.

 

When I started this book I was a little disappointed to discover that I was not going to meet some of the characters that I had come to love in the previous two books. Although in one way the story of Cathedral community had come to a natural end I had hoped that another story would begin using one or two of the existing cast. However, Trollope has managed to set the stage for a new cast very well and having read a couple of chapters I am already hooked!

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I finished Dr Thorne yesterday while sitting in the garden in the late evening sunshine. Our garden is in many ways a very English garden which rather suited the reading of this book as it is a very English book. The story is basically about the need of the son and heir of the local squire to marry money due to poor management of his income and estate by the present squire. Unfortunately for the family, and especially Lady Arabella mother of the son and heir and wife to the present squire, Frank, the son and heir, has other ideas!

 

Although at the beginning of the book Trollope states that Dr Thorne is the hero there are many other characters such as Lady Arabella who play an equally large part. As with other books within this series the characters are very clearly drawn with "the goodies and badies" being obvious to see. Trollope had a wonderful talent for giving his characters very obvious names which reflected their characters. The squires firm of pondering lawyers were named "slow and Bideawhile" while the go getting firm bought in to help when he is really struggling were called "Gumption, Gazebee and Gazebee.

 

Again, although quite a humurous book with the author having a bit of a giggle at some of the characters involved and I suspect another pop at other writers of the time he once again did deal with some real issues of the time. The power struggle within this book concerned that within the landed gentry rather than that within the church but the power struggle was certainly still there. The book also dealt with the issues of old blood lines and new money. As many of the old established families were beginning to struggle with finances and were looking around for injections of money the new rich suddenly became acceptable to them!

 

In the middle of these many power struggles we find Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne. A really likeable couple both wanting nothing more than to be able to be together and live out a reasonable life. Thanks to the situation in which the squire and his family find themselves and to the said many power struggles going on around them the poor pair are rather flung about a bit. However, they are both portrayed as strong good people and like "The Warden" in the two previous novels are deteremind to follow their own instincts rather than be bullied by those around them.

 

Although in many ways an unusal one this book is basically a love story. However because of the many other aspects of the novel I would never consider it to be a book aimed mainly at women as modern love stories usually are. I read the few comments made by other readers and noticed that on this thread as well as on "The Barsetshire Chronicles" thread a few readers had described Dr Thorne as their favourite of the books. Having read three of them so far I think that as much as I have enjoyed this book The Warden and Barchester Towers will leave more of a lasting impression. That is not to say that I did not love this book or many of the characters within it.

 

One thing I do love about Trollope are the little side stories running along that of the main one. In this novel,having disliked her at the beginning, I found that I rather felt sorry for Augusta, one of Frank's sisters, by the end of the book. She realky is a product of her mother and, like her mother and thanks to her cousin Lady Amellia, will probably never fond happiness. I will certainly be continuing with the series and look forward to more colourful characters.

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