Friday, 30 July 2010

THE LAST CHRONICLE OF BARSET by Anthony Trollope


After SMALL HOUSE I decided I just couldn't face life without Trollope, so the binge contined. This is the last of the series of six Barset novels. Now, I'm kind of sorry the series is over, but let's face it: this isn't Austen, who only wrote like 6 books total. This is Trollope, and this guy isn't kidding. He wrote more words than any other English novellist. After this Barchester series, there's the Palliser series, which some people tell me are even better, and then tons of individual novels. So I could read like mad without any fear of running out.

I could, but I'm not. I'm taking a break. I'm Trolloped out. All that order, and morality. Anyway, let's talk about it real quick. This book focuses on a minor character who has appeared in previous books, Mr Crawley. He is a low paid curate with a wife and a ton of children, who he can sometimes barely feed. He cashes a cheque which it later emerges was lost by someone else. Mr Crawley can't account for how he came by the cheque. Thus, he's accused of theft (terrible for a clergyman) and has to face the magistrates. He suffers terribly, because he is a intelligent and dedicated man, but so bitter about how unlucky he's been that he is a tiny bit bonkers. He refuses to take help, of any kind, which is VERY irritating for the reader. He even refuses to have a lawyer. Eventually, we find it was all a mix up and he is innocent. Which means his beautiful but poor daughter can accept her wealthy lover as a husband. (Trollope loves poor girls and rich boys getting together, I'm realising).

The person who reveals the mixup is Johnny, who we've met in previous novels. He is in love with Lily Dale, who refuses to marry him. It's not clear, even to Lily, if she does this because she does not love him enough, or because she is still so scarred by being jilted (as she was in SMALL HOUSE). We also meet the man who jilted her, Crosbie, once again, and find he is suitably miserable. I thought for sure when Johnny and Lily came back in this book it was because Trollope was going to put us out of our misery and GET THEM TOGHETHER. Oh no. They just randomly DON'T GET TOGETHER. Goddamn 1400 pages later, they DON'T GET TOGETHER. What the hell?!! I am bitter.

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