Nov 9, 2015

Reading Goals: A Little Detour Along the Way

Up until now, the only books I've reviewed this year have been the "official" ones in the twelve categories of the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. But recently I took a bit of a detour and decided to read Dr. Thorne, the third book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope.

This year I was introduced to Anthony Trollope and I have absolutely fallen in love with him! It is astounding to me that he isn't as well known and read as the likes of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

I've read 4 titles by him so far and I want to read every last one of them. Two of the four, Barchester Towers and The Way We Live Now "counted" towards the Reading Challenge and the other 2 were extras!

After reading four Trollope novels my favorite is the one I just finished, Dr. Thorne. In fact when I read the last sentence I sighed. And smiled. And sighed again. And smiled bigger. And wished it had been a longer book. It is somewhat sad to be finished with a story you love and enjoy so much.

Dr Thorne tells the story of Dr Thorne and his niece Mary, and the Greshams of Greshamsbury, and Frank Gresham the squire's son who loves Mary. But Mary is penniless, born of questionable circumstances, with inferior blood and not at all good enough for the son of a squire. The squire is in debt and everyone has told Frank, especially his mother, Lady Arabella, that it is his duty to marry money, in order to save the estate of Greshamsbury. I cannot count how often that is emphasized. Frank must marry money, for his sake and the sake of Greshamsbury!

Poor Frank! Poor Mary!

Below is a paragraph that I read to any friend or family member kind enough to listen to me and it is a great representation of Trollope's humor.

The one son and heir to Greshamsbury was named as his father, Francis Newbold Gresham. He would have been the hero of our tale had not that place been pre-occupied by the village doctor. As it is, those who please may so regard him. It is he who is to be our favourite young man, to do the love scenes, to have his trials and his difficulties, and to win through them or not, as the case may be. I am too old now to be a hard-hearted author, and so it is probable that he may not die of a broken heart. Those who don't approve of a middle-aged bachelor country doctor as a hero, may take the heir to Greshamsbury in his stead, and call the book, if it so please them, "The Loves and Adventures of Francis Newbold Gresham the Younger."

Trollope outdoes himself in this novel. In true Trollope style he is constantly filling in little details, gossiping to the readers about his characters and making us privy to information the characters do not posses, even telling us what will happen to some of them years after the story in the book has ended. Of course, now I'm hoping I'll run into Dr. Thorne, Mary, and Frank again in later novels of Barsetshire. I most certainly plan to read them all!

This is definitely a happily ever after story, but not without some human tragedy along the way. Alcoholism makes an appearance in the pages of the book, and we get an inside look at just how devastating its impact is.

Before I reached the middle of the book I was absolutely sure how it would end. Yes, it was predictable but not at all disappointing. Even though I had a pretty good idea how it would all play out, or at least I thought I did, I couldn't stop reading. I was just as anxious to move from page to page as I would have been if it was all a mystery and I was dying to know what the ending would look like. I mean Trollope is that good of a writer!

However, I must confess that although the ending turned out pretty much as I predicted it didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped it would. You can't have everything after all. But, I would never say the ending was disappointing!

As with his other books this story is filled with humor and satire. There is no question that Trollope is not a fan of the "marrying money" mentality. And he does seem to poke fun of the "class system" and hypocrisy of Victorian England.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a novel by Anthony Trollope. Hint to your friends and families that one of his books would be a nice Christmas present. Or visit your library or even just read one online. Many of his books are free for kindle as well.

There's absolutely no excuse NOT to read one of Anthony Trollope's many novels. I guarantee you will not regret it!


  1. Awwww, the signs of a wonderful author and book, turning pages even though we know what's mostly going to happen. I am doing myself that favor. I'm just carving the right time for my Trollope. (Instead of Barchester, I will make this my first of his books, and I plan to start on it this Christmas on purpose -since it's a page turner, I want to have time ahead!)

  2. I am so glad Dr Thorne and friends will be visiting you this Christmas. I am quite sure they will be perfect guests and you will be sad when they leave. I know I wished they had stayed longer when they visited me!

  3. I've been listening to a very well done BBC dramatisation of the Barchester Chronicles & loved Dr Thorne. This is the first time I've tried anything by Trollope & now I'm keen to read the books.

    1. Ooooh, I bet the BBC audio of Barchester Chronicles is wonderful! I hope you get an opportunity to read the books too. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I agree, it is dumbfounding that Trollope isn't as lauded and widely read as Dickens or Austen! Not only is he just as good, in his inimitable way, but he has a HUGE back catalogue! Maybe he will be "discovered" soon!

  5. I am currently reading his autobiography and enjoying it almost as much as his novels. It has been fascinating to see how his life, especially his sad childhood, affected his writing. Trollope is indeed a gold mine!


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