Reviews

‘an intriguing read . . . keeps the reader guessing . . . a lot to enjoy in this romp through the Cambridge Commons . . . a strong sense of place and a narrative style that is both energetic and engaging.’ [Dead Letters]

- Margaret Murphy, SHERLOCK

Which is your favourite Trollope novel?

imagesIt’s many years since my career took a surprising, not to say wrong, turn and I found myself catching the train from Birmingham to Solihull every day to my job in the Tax Office. This was in my early twenties and it was so long ago that smoking was still allowed in the office – though only just. I was training to be an Executive Office (Higher Grade). I had taken  the civil service exam and, given that I had barely scraped a pass in ‘O’ Level Maths, it’s strange that I was sent to the Tax Office, especially as I had asked for Social Security. I am inclined to think that it was simply a mistake. I lasted four months before deciding that I had better return to academic life. It was a difficult time, and Trollope’s Palliser novels which I read on the train, at lunch-time, and at every spare moment, were a great consolation. I had a parallel life in the world he had created and I loved his authorial voice, so measured and humane. He was like a wise, older friend. Over the next few years, I read nearly all of his forty-seven novels (and have since re-read quite a few). I almost chose to work on Trollope for my PhD.

It’s 200 years since he was born and there was an item in the Guardian a few weeks ago in which various writers discussed their favourite Trollope novel. It set me thinking about mine. It’s not an easy choice. I love the Palliser novels with dear old Planty Pall and the flighty Lady Glencora, a marriage which somehow against all the odds does work. I much admire the stand-alone, The Way We Live Now, sharper, darker in its analysis of various kinds of corruption in both private and public life. I like The American Senator with its merciless dissection of the workings of the marriage market. For pure humour, there’s Barchester Towers and the oleaginous Mr Slope’s hapless courtship of Mrs Bold. Perhaps I could cheat and have all the Barchester novels bound into one volume, but failing that, I think I would have to go for The Last Chronicle of Barset, where lots of old friends appear and so many stories are wound up and Mrs Proudie meets her nemesis. That was the one I slipped into my case on my trip to China as insurance against my Kindle conking out. Trollope himself regarded as his best and who am I to disagree with the master?

 

6 Comments

  1. Lyn
    April 28, 2015

    Trollope is one of my favourites too. I read the last two Pallisers last year & loved them. This year, so far, I’ve read John Caldigate & Cousin Henry, two books with flawed protagonists (I can’t really call them heroes). I’ve read 22 Trollopes so still lots to enjoy. My favourites, I think, are TWWLN & The Prime Minister, although I haven’t done any rereading & I read the Barsetshires a very long time ago. I’d like to reread those one of these days.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      April 29, 2015

      Good to hear from you, Lyn. I didn’t mention Orley Farm. That is awfully good, too. So is the Prime Minister, I agree. They are great novels for long winter evening, summer holidays and long-haul flights. They are both gripping and leisurely, or perhaps spacious should be the word.

      Reply
      • Lyn
        April 30, 2015

        I should also mention Miss Mackenzie. I’m rereading it with my online bookgroup & enjoying it all over again. Although I don’t think any heroine ever had three such unprepossessing suitors!

        Reply
        • Christine Poulson
          April 30, 2015

          Ages since I read this one! That is the one where T had decided that it wouldn’t end in marriage, isn’t it? But really how else could it end?

          Reply
  2. moira @ Clothes in Books
    May 6, 2015

    I like Trollope, but feel I have only skimmed the surface – I always feel there’ll be time in the future to catch up with him. I loved Can You Forgive Her?, and The Warden is said to be partly based on an almshouse which is 5 minutes walk from my house, so I have a soft spot for that one too.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      May 7, 2015

      You definitely need to be in a spacious mood for Trollope. He is not a quick read. How lovely to live where you do? A short story of mine is set in a cathedral close not a million miles from there.

      Reply

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