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This novel tells the tale of a variety of colourful characters in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, surrounding in particular the arrival of the new bishop, the hen-pecked Dr Prodie. This book follows the intrigues of ambition and power struggles within the Church.
First off, this book is very stereotypically English and old-fashioned. Its sense of irony, its very descriptive depiction of corruption and hypocrisy, the well-drawn out characters - I thought it was wonderful, as I can relate to people and situations like this. Although the novel centers around intrigues within the cathedral, the situations could equally well be translated to other areas of life because it is really about normal everyday occurrences.
As I've said already, the characters help to bring this book to life, and you find yourself learning to love them, despite their faults. The bumbling bishop is loveable in his own way. The Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni, who seems to be able to ensnare all men and arouse the hatred and jealously of all women by holding court on a large sofa, does have a heart and helps a blossoming love affair to flourish. Even the "baddie", Mr Slope, is so well portrayed that you can feel some sympathy for him when things don't go his way.
This book is part of a classic series known as the Barchester Chronicles, and I think this one has certainly whetted my appetite to find out more about these wonderful characters...
Amazon price: £5.99
Paperback: 388 pages
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (among others)
"Barchester Towers", Trollope's most popular novel, is the second of the six "Chronicles of Barsetshire." "The Chronicles" follow the intrigues of ambition and love in the cathedral town of Barchester. Trollope was of course interested in the Church, that pillar of Victorian society - in its susceptibility to corruption, hypocrisy, and blinkered conservatism - but the Barsetshire novels are no more 'ecclesiastical' than his Palliser novels are 'political'. It is the behaviour of the individuals within a power structure that interests him. In this novel, Trollope continues the story of Mr Harding and his daughter Eleanor, adding to his cast of characters that oily symbol of progress Mr Slope, the hen-pecked Dr Proudie, and the amiable and breezy Stanhope family. The central questions of this moral comedy - who will be warden? Who will be dean? Who will marry Eleanor? - are skilfully handled with that subtlety of ironic observation that has won Trollope such a wide and appreciative readership.