A sad little story, about as near to a tragedy as Trollope comes.
Sir Harry Hotspur is a wealthy land owner. He had a son, of whom he was very proud, and a daughter, Emily, who was bright and obedient. Sir Harry was happy that the future of the Hotspur name was secure, knowing that his lands and fortune and the title would be passed down to his son. The sudden death of this son upset all his plans. The law said that he could leave his estate to his daughter, but the title had to go to the next legal Hotspur, one George Hotspur, a distant cousin, a man of great personal charm but a spendthrift, a gambler and a card cheat.
When George and Emily meet she falls for his charm, and is convinced that she can win him away from his disreputable life to become suitable husband material. Her father is set against any such idea, and tries to find a suitor more to his own taste, who would take the Hotspur name upon marriage, but Emily will not comply
George continues his courtship of Emily, convincing her that he loves her and that only she can save him from his disreputable life. Her father is determined to prove George totally unworthy.
Gradually poor Emily is stripped of her illusions, and when George is finally paid off by her father’s lawyers and leaves her to marry his long-time mistress, an actress who has paid his debts on many occasions, she is carted off to Italy in the vain hope of recovering from her broken heart.
Can You Forgive Her? is the first book in the series of six Palliser novels (also known as the "Parliamentary Novels") by Anthony Trollope.
The common thread of the series is the wealthy aristocrat and politician Plantagenet Palliser and (in all but the last book) his wife Lady Glencora. The plots involve British and Irish politics in varying degrees, specifically in and around Parliament. The Pallisers do not always play a major role; in The Eustace Diamonds (the third novel) they only comment on the main action.
I am listening to this on an unabridged audiobook read by Timothy West, who was also the reader of the Chronicles of Barsetshire which I have listened to at intervals over the last couple of years. Hearing the same voice reading a narrative that is recognisably Trollope is very comfortable, and though only two CDs in I am expecting to enjoy this, even if it is politics.
It was serialised for BBC television in 1974, and although I didn't follow it I must have seen an episode or two along the way, as I remember very clearly Susan Hampshire in the role of Lady Glencora.
The Warden – Barchester Chronicles 1 - Anthony Trollope - 1855
I read this first of the Barchester Chronicles with my former book club in England. I have been trying to read one book every year ever since.I loved all of the books and have started a thread on each one of them so we can discuss the books separately.
Framley Parsonage – Barchester Chronicles 4 - Anthony Trollope - 1861
As all the other novels of the Barchester Chronicles, this book is very interesting as it describes the life of ordinary and non-ordinary people of his time so well. The problems the main character has seem so well known even a decade and a half after his story.
Anthony Trollope - The Barchester Novels
Claire 26th September 2006 01:28 PM
The Barchester Novels
Who else has read any of these?
I reread The Warden over the summer and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
I liked the fact that the characters were so varied and rounded. Many of them had a touch of the ridiculous about them, but managed to remain likable and plausible, rather than turning into caricatures. I enjoyed the dilemma in the middle of the plot as well - that it wasn't a simple case of "goodies and baddies", and there was some reason and sense on the part of most of the protagonists. I also thought the love story at the centre of it was lightly handled with just the right touch of sentimentality.
I also reread Barchester Towers - another great novel. Mr Slope, The Bishop and Mrs Proudie are wonderfully funny in their political manoueverings - and another sweet love story too.
Does anyone else think there is a touch of Jane Austen in Trollopes dry observations on the silliness of some of his characters?
Haven't read any further in the series yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so, though I'm not sure how much time I'll have for reading once term starts (and Rebecca is next on my list) As someone about to start training for the Church of England, I do hope Trollopes observations about the clergy are not too accurate!!
Phoebus 26th September 2006 05:46 PM
I read The Warden in my early twenties and adored it. Very amusing with lovable characters. I think it was the Penguin edition that I read but the illustrations were fantastic and as good as Phiz.
I was intending on rereading it this year (the first book that I would have ever reread) followed by the others in the series. I wouldn't mind buying a nice boxset of hardback editions.
Everyman or something, but Everyman are in the process of changing their covers so it's a little difficult to be sure of buying the covers with the same style when you're buying on the internet.
Incidentally, I went to school with one of Trollope's relatives. His father was a vicar !
yorkshire rose 26th September 2006 09:47 PM
I loved these. Trollope is so humane, you can tell he loves his characters -even the awful ones. I heard Alan Plater tell a funny story about them years ago: he was giving an after dinner speech at the General Synod. Someone asked him what he was currently working on. He said 'A programme about corruption and nepotism in the Church of England' - gasps and worried faces all around. Then he said he was dramatising Barchester Towers for the BBC - sighs of relief from assembled clerics....
woofwoof 27th September 2006 04:55 PM
I've been working through these for years. So far I've read the first four. I enjoyed "The Warden" very much, but "Barchester Towers" is even better. In this second book, Trollope introduces a whole range of interesting characters - The Bishop, Mrs Proudie, Mr Slope, of course and the Stanhopes. It's fascinating the way that the book starts with Mrs Proudie/Mr Slope as the powers behind the puppet Bishop in their battle with the Archdeacon, the ex-warden (forgotten his name) and the old church establishment. Then of course that coalition falls apart as Mr Slope is drawn in all directions by his conflicting loyalties and ambitions. There are some real gems eg the first conversation between the Bishop's party and the Archdeacon where the Bishop hardly says a word: "the Bishop believes, and I agree with him...". Also when young Stanhope gets chatting to the Bishop at a tea party ("I suppose it must be busy work being a bishop"). Also that wonderful line at the end: "there was one lesson that the Bishop had learned very well and that was never to disagree with his wife again"! One aspect of the story that struck me is the way that Mr Bold dies and leaves all his money to his wife (the warden's daughter). However his sister clearly has inherited nothing from their father - all the money obviously went to her brother who has now left it all to his widow. She has no option but to live with her brother's widow. It seems that whereas Mrs Bold has numerous suitors (being a rich widow), Miss Bold has none (being penniless). Miss Bold is not mentioned in the two later books.
One criticism I do have is that Trollope really doesn't know how to tell a story. The pompous, verbose narrator is too strong a presence in these first two books and poohpoohs the idea of keeping people in suspense about the direction of the plot. In fact halfway through the book he openly tells the reader that such and such a person is not going to marry someone. The ending is also a little bit weak.
After the glories of Barchester Towers, one inevitably feels let down by Dr Thorne - a bit like reading Agnes Grey after Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It's a good enough little story but is odd in that none of the characters in the first two books appears at all. It's also fairly obvious from about chapter 3 what is to happen. It does however introduce one of Trollope's memorable characters, namely the outspoken oil of lebanon heiress, Miss Dunstable. (No doubt when the book came out Miss D would have appeared to be very outspoken indeed whereas this is a little bit lost on us now). Framley Parsonage is also adequate as novels go. It does have the advantage over Dr Thorne that some of the characters have appeared in the previous novels - e.g. the Bishop and his wife, the archdeacon and his wife make an albeit brief appearance. Also, the plot is a little too similar to the one in Dr Thorne.
Still to come: The small house at Allington and the last chronicle of Barsetshire.
Sorry to keep going on about screen adaptations but I have to say that the BBC's production of the Barchester Chronicles (early 1980s) is absolutely magnificent. The casting was spot on - Geraldine McEwan as the Bishop's wife, Mrs Bouquet's husband as the Bishop, Susan Hampshire as the countess, Alan Rickman as Mr Slope, Donald Pleasance as the warden, and of course the star of the show: Nigel Hawthorne as the Archdeacon. Whenever anyone mentions the archdeacon at our church, I always think of Nigel Hawthorne pompously flapping about...
Found this after starting the individual threads on the different books. But I think this is a great thread to discuss the chronicles as a whole.