First of all, I will start by recommending this book. Unlike Under the Greenwood Tree or The Three Musketeers I have some experience with the lovely Trollope. This is the 4th book in a series that I’ve enjoyed thoroughly thus far. If you’re interested in more about Trollope, click here.
The first three books are:
* The Warden
* Doctor Thorne
I think you could probably read the books out of order, I don’t know that I recommend it. Miss Dunstable, for example and Dr. Thorne, carry over from Doctor Thorne. And the Grantlys show up in The Warden and Barchester Towers. Plus, I’m obsessive about reading in order. It’s almost as impossible for me to recommend a series out of order as it is for me to recommend an abridged book.
And as far as classical novels go, I highly recommend Barchester Towers and Dr. Thorne. The Warden was pretty all right too, and it sets up Barchester Towers so well. Trollope with Gaskell and the Brontes approach my love of Jane Austen. And that, my friends, is saying something.
As far as Framley Parsonage goes, it doesn’t have the same utter appeal of Barchester Towers with the fight between who would control the bishopric and the charm of the lovely, rich widow. Mark Robarts stresses me out with his bad choices. Miss Dunstable is as charming as ever. But, I do take issue with the proposed ***spoiler*** Lufton / Grantly alliance. Mostly because Mrs. Grantly lets her daughter live with the Luftons in order to throw the girl and the boy together. I’m too controlling for that. The hap pines of her daughter is very dependent, in those days, on her marriage. I don’t think I have the lack of control to trust someone else with the happiness and future of my daughter. That doesn’t tell you anything about the book and too much about me.
And yet, though her mother has two fish on her line, she isn’t there to see how Lufton isn’t really interested; she isn’t there to ensure her daughter is happy; I would like to believe that she isn’t there for her daughter to convey her concerns too, though I’m not sure that Miss Grantly has that in her–flat and porcelain doll-ish as she is. Miss Grantly is about as interesting as plain oatmeal. But daughters still need their mothers.
The hero of this book, or the heroine, is Mrs. Robarts. Not because she has any huge role. She doesn’t. But because I just like her so much. I like how she kneels before Mark as he confesses all, and she supports him and loves him, and secures a path for them with him even though he has been so ineffably stupid. She doesn’t do it out of her role as his wife; she doesn’t berate him; she just…loves him. It’s beautiful.
But here’s the thing…as with every other Trollope novel…the first third of the book is interesting. The second third of the book starts to bring out emotion, for example you get mad at Mark Robarts. But the last third…that’s the one that gets you. It brings the anxiety to your throat. When people get their comeuppance, you rejoice. When happy endings happen, you rejoice. It’s possible there are giggles, there are fists raised in the air, there are even…cackles.
So, Trollope, buddy–you’ve sold me again. And I’ve moved the last two books in this series up on my list.
ps Up Next: Wuthering Heights