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« On the Victorian novelist | Main | Catching up »

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Martina

this was my first Trollope, although I had listened to the dramatisation on BBC that you recommended and have loved the earlier TV adaptations.
and I just loved The Warden finding it most rewarding. It was at its most enthralling in his treatment of the press as well as in his marvellous comment that you highlighted on the Sentimental Novelist. Some, but certainly not all, of the domestic scenes could be overly cloying and I had to have a stern word with myself to persevere. Having done so I was so rewarded by his more stringent satire and the closing chapters were unputdownable.
This was such a sensitive exploration of an extremely difficult moral dilemma and as such was really satisfying. Septimus Harding is a character so delicately drawn that he will certainly stay with me. His affectionate and ironic rendering on the page wiped away completely any televisual memories that I may have retained.
Bravo! Bring on more Barchester Chronicles.

Kate D

I'm an old hand and always enjoy Trollope. This is, I think, the weakest of the Barsetshire novels (my favourite is The Last Chronicles, which returns to various characters mentioned here , especially the poor Quiverfulls) but it is still full of good things.
I like his handling of scandal and the power of the press, with its ability to traduce an essentially innocent man. It's a theme that still resonates. I like his irony but also his awareness that characters with mixed motives may be quite sincere in what they tell themselves (Eleanor doesn't realise her scheme will lead to a kiss and offer of marriage; the Archdeacon actually believes wholeheartedly in the things he defends with little sense of his worldliness in this). Indeed, for me Trollope's real strength lies in his portrayal of worldliness, here and elsewhere; he understands how people who are essentially moral compromise and become less than they might be. I love his sly humour.e.g. 'The bishop did not whistle; we believe that they lose the power of doing so on being consecrated.' Or ' A clergyman generally dislikes to be met in argument by ant scriptural quotation; he feels as affronted as a doctor does, when recommended by an old woman to take some favourite dose...'
So it was good to be prompted to revisit this - thank you.

Mary

It took me far too long to discover him, too - for some reason I thought Trollope sounded heavy-going, which is so absolutely not the case! Like you, I started off with The Warden. But how lucky you are to have so much good reading ahead!

MOIRA OLIVER

I have not finished 'The Warden' yet but to my surprise it is quite an easy and enjoyable read, I was expecting something much 'drier'. Will certainly be trying other 'Trollope's'.

Iris

I cannot remember my first Trollope, but I have long enjoyed most of them and often reread. I am currently on 'He knew he was right' and finding that is dragging rather, I think perhaps I am itching to give most of the characters a good shake.

Jane Jazz

I'm a little bit ashamed to admit I haven't read any Trollope since my youth, but the lovely, tempting description from you of this "soft and comfortable book" has lured me back to the old master! I also found the other comments here really helpful and informative, so thank you all!

Joan Kyler

I finished reading my first Trollope, The Warden, on 13 December 1985 (yes, I know, I have this problem). Since then, I've read a dozen more and enjoyed them all. It seems I should have read more over the years, but I tend to save them and to read them in spurts. I don't think I need to worry about running out! I have some lovely older editions but have downloaded onto my Kindle all the ones I didn't have.

Juxtabook

My first Trollope was Barchester Towers (as a teenager) and I went back and read The Warden. He is both charming and funny, and has suffered greatly by being liked by John Major!

Have you seen the BBC Barchester Towers with Alan Rickman in his first major role as Slope? Worth getting the DVD for that alone.

Anji

This was my first Trollope and I thought it would be heavy going and I was so wrong. It was a gentle read and very enjoyable and I shall try the rest of the series. I couldn't find a copy of the Warden anywhere and I ended up buying Trollope's complete catalog on my kindle. It will be a treat to explore the rest of his works. It was a good choice Karen.

Claire

Although I have listened to and watched Trollope this was my first read and I loved it. A story for today with supposed corruption, high and perhaps unjustified salary and press expose. Finney's feeling of elation as the story was taken up by The Jupiter "He might be examined before committees of the House of Commons, with heaven knows how much a day for his personal expenses - he might be engaged for years on such a suit". It's such a contemporary theme that I'm now worried a Trollope Project could emerge in keeping with the,to my mind, wholly irrelevant Austen Project. Please let no publisher or author think of this and try to re-imagine Trollope!
The characterisation is wonderful, who couldn't love Septimus Harding playing his imaginary cello when troubled and his great friend The Bishop or recognise the ambitious priest in Dr Grantly. I agree with Martina on the sometimes cloying aspect but I suppose we all find too-good-to-be-true fictional people hard to appreciate and with a father like the Warden Eleanor would find the situation very hard.
I enjoyed the domestic/ecclesiastical setting combined with the moral dilemma and was pleased for you, Cornflower, to see it neatly tied up. My edition had wonderful Ardizzone illustrations which added to my enjoyment. I recently listened to a Radio 4 adaptation of Barchester Towers and have now bought the book and so, yes, I will read more Trollope.


B R Wombat

This was my second Trollope, after reading Miss Mackenzie when it was on Radio 4 some time ago. I really enjoyed it and intend to read more. Thanks for choosing it.

Mr Cornflower

Many years ago I was given a book token and chose the Barchester novels; I read them greedily in about ten days and greatly enjoyed them, and re-reading The Warden thirty years later reminded me how much I liked them the first time. I have always admired the deftness with which he draws ordinary, imperfect human beings coping more or less well with the conflicting demands which life imposes on them at a time of quite remarkable change. To take a tiny but telling example; in this novel, set in the early 1850s, Trollope takes his characters up and down to London by train, a journey of two or three hours which barely twenty years earlier would have taken a couple of days by horse and carriage. It had the same revolutionary impact on the Victorians that the internet - also some twenty years old - has had on us, and they must have felt that they were living in an age of head-spinning turmoil, in which the questions, what to hold on to and what to abandon, were discussed with passion and vigour on all sides. Trollope's great gift is to humanise these dilemmas, to put us in the shoes of a robust defender of tradition like Grantly, a fervent advocate of reform like Bold, and, stuck in the middle like most of us and wanting only to live quietly and inoffensively, the poor, put upon Warden. Some years later I read his other great series, the Palliser novels, and for those who have finished the Barchester Chronicles and are craving more Trollope, I can warmly recommend them.

Susie Vereker

Much enjoyed what must be for me about the third read of The Warden, and I watched at least one TV version ages ago. In the past I concentrated more on the love story, and felt that Mr Harding should keep his job, but this time I was not so sure. I enjoyed the humour and the political satire and was conscious, as Kate D said, that some aspects of the novel, such as the power of the press, still resonate today while the power of the church has considerably diminished, of course. (I gather that the book is partly based on a contemporary case in Winchester.)
Thanks, as ever, Cornflower, for an inspiring choice.

Margaret M

This was my first Trollope too, although I have enjoyed radio productions of Barchester tales, and seem to recollect a TV version from way back. Thank you so much for choosing this, it has been such a pleasure and I now intend to read them all, and the Pallisers, woven in between all the other "must reads". There was indeed much of this that resonates with todays moral dilemmas, particularly the thorny issues of compromise and idealism

Karoline

Thank you for the nudge to reread The Warden, it's been twenty years since I first read it and the revisit did not disappoint.

Alice C

I am so pleased that you enjoyed The Warden - I was worried that my evangelistic fervor might have put you off. My favourite Trollope so far is The Eustace Diamonds - a masterly demonstration of how to write an entertaining novel about characters without an admirable trait between them.

barb@bravo55.com


I greatly enjoyed this book! As with some others it is my first Trollope. I do like stories where [1] there are no easy answers to the situations in which the characters find themselves and [2] actions can have unintended consequences.

Yes, it has a theme that resonates in today’s world! Uncanny, isn’t it? I also followed the TV series Silk after you mentioned it in your blog some months ago. Again, more examples of “which version of the truth are we going to consider?”

Thanks again for this choice! I’m off to read more of this author and also your next choice House of Brede.

Barbara MacLeod

Oops, the name is wrong with my posting (my fault. I reset details incorrectly). I will try to see if this works. BJM

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