Review by Jennifer.
Barchester Towers opens when the clerical world of Barchester is turned upside down. Its high-church Bishop has just died and the new Bishop, Dr. Proudie, although a rather likable character himself, is controlled by his low-church wife and chaplain. The cathedral city breaks into factions and is the scene of much of the action in the book. The High-Church faction is led by the deceased Bishop's son, Dr. Grantly, also the son-in-law of Mr. Harding from The Warden.
Although the war between the Proudie faction and Grantly faction makes up most of the action in the story, there are several subplots with interesting characters that are both developed well and enduringly.
One of my favorite subplots is the one that revolves around Mr. Harding's youngest daughter, Eleanor Bold, a widow at the beginning of the book. She is one of the many strong female characters that Trollope creates in his novels and is the love interest of two men that represent the two extreme factions of the book. Mr. Slope, Bishop Proudie's Chaplain, wants her for himself because he wants her money left to her from her deceased husband. Mr. Arabin, a friend of Dr. Grantly's, is a man who has no experience with women. At the same time knows that he loves Eleanor and also competes for her hand. Read the book and find out what decision Eleanor makes and how the dispute between the two factions develops. I promise you will not be disappointed.
This English author's works are vast and have unfortunately experienced little of the attention that other English 19th century authors have received. An amazingly prolific writer, Anthony Trollope penned some 47 novels, as well as an autobiography, a few biographies and countless other short stories, guides, plays and social commentaries.
My own knowledge of Trollope's works did not come about until about a year ago when I was searching through my husband's personal library and found The Warden. My husband explained to me that this belonged to a set of other books Trollope had written. I later learned that The Warden was the first of a series of six volumes in the Barset novels. I read the book and instantly fell in love with one of the main characters, Mr. Harding, the Warden. The first book was short and when finishing it, I had a great desire to read more of the series. I moved onto the second book Barchester Towers, one of my favorite in the series.
12/10/2003Jandy's (My) Review
It's been over 3 years since Jennifer (above) egged me to read this book. I bought a used copy about 2 1/2 years ago, and it's been on my to-be-read pile since. It came with me when I moved across country, and through 3 apartments since then. I finally pulled it off my shelf a week ago and started reading it.
Barchester Towers obviously was written before books had to compete with movies or television for attention. It is rich in descriptions that go on for a few pages. The character's motives are picked apart and closely examined before being put back together. This book doesn't rush, it meanders. Also, it gives a wonderful look at society's actions and culture 150 years ago. Then it was strictly taboo for adults to call each other by first name, but used the honorifics: Mr. Harding, Mrs. Bolt, Miss Thorne, Dr. Grantly, etc. A man wouldn't use a woman's first name unless they had declared love, and presumably, marriage. He certainly wouldn't refer to her appearance out loud. Again, that was part of the Victorian culture of the time.
Or was Barchester Towers just written? I have often thought and occasionally voiced that as much as people learn and improve, they still stay the same. This was proven over and over while reading this novel. During one conversation, the characters were discussing the newest scientific theories - what was on the moon and what was it made of? What sort of life exists on Jupiter? We still have the same sort of conversations today, just with new theories. People's motives don't change. These are everyday people who are not completely good (well, maybe Mr. Harding) nor are they completely evil. Even the antagonist is given his due of goodness. People still see the world around them the same way.
This quote is a good example:
"'I think the world grows more worldly every day,' said Eleanor.
"'That is because you see more of it than when you were younger. But we should hardly judge by what we see--we see so very, very little.'"
The wording of the answer is old fashioned, but is appropriate and knowledgeable. Trollope had a good handle on the minds of man. I have to agree with Jennifer, this is an excellent book. Barchester Towers is constantly funny as Trollope portrays people as they can be.
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The Warden by Anthony Trollope
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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