Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Last Chronicle of Barset

The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope. 1867.  928 pages. 

'I can never bring myself to believe it, John.' said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr. George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge. 

I love Anthony Trollope. I do. You know I do. So finishing The Last Chronicle of Barset was bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I loved it. It was such a great book. There are so many old friends to be found within it. So many characters that I've come to know and love through the first five books--The Warden, Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne, Framley Parsonage. The Small House At Allington. And it was great to visit with them again. To reconnect with them. There were many new characters to love as well. So I loved it cover to cover. On the other hand, perhaps because it was so wonderful, it made it all the more difficult to say goodbye.

When Mr. Crawley, the curate of Hogglestock, is accused of stealing a cheque, everyone in Barsetshire begins to take sides. Some feel that he couldn't possibly have meant to steal the money, there has to be a valid excuse as to why his wife tried to spend another man's cheque to pay her bill. Others feel that he's guilty. What valid excuse could any man have for having another man's cheque in his possession? This Mr. Crawley may be a clergyman, but he also must be a thief. You might think that the church would stand by him. At least until he's been found guilty and punished by the courts. But the bishop and his wife, Mrs. Proudie, are his harshest critics. She is demanding (or should I say commanding) that he resign. She would call for his resignation because he looks guilty. Even if the courts were to clear him, I think she would want him gone. (Not that every clergyman agrees with the bishop and his wife. In fact, some lean more towards believing Crawley to be innocent because Mrs. Proudie is so sure of his guilt. And they wouldn't want to agree with her on any subject.)

Many people are upset by the Crawley's misfortune. Especially Grace Crawley, his beautiful daughter, and her suitor, Major Henry Grantley, the second son of Archdeacon Grantly. His father has been very firm in opposing this match. Yet Major Grantley can't turn his back on the woman he loves. And speak to her he must. If she'll agree to marry him, then he'll be truly happy. Of course, she is refusing to answer yes or no until her father's trial is over. If her father is found guilty, we're led to believe she would never ever consent to be his wife. (One of my favorite scenes in the entire novel is when Archdeacon Grantley goes to visit Grace Crawley. He approaches her full of anger and wrath, determined that he'll speak bluntly and forcefully with her. Yet by the end of the scene who has won the day?!) So I loved this romance, I did.

The other romance--of sorts--is Lily Dale and Johnny Eames, a non-couple we first met in Small House at Allington, he's still madly in love with his Lily. And she's still stubbornly refusing to even hear him speak of love and marriage. She will never, ever, ever, ever, ever marry. He's not convinced that his love is hopeless. And he's not alone in thinking that his romance is hopeless--there are so many supporters on his side, so many hoping that Lily will one day say yes. But who is more stubborn? Readers learn the answer to that in this final volume.

Of course, those are just some of the stories within The Last Chronicle of Barset. I wish I had some quotes to share. But I've probably marked over a hundred pages--and I couldn't begin to pick and choose from that many. But trust me. Trollope is Trollope and his writing is wonderful like always!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


hopeinbrazil said...

I have to admit I was dismayed when I first picked up this book and discovered it was about one of my least favorite characters from another book in the series, but being a true Trollope fan I pressed on. Of course, I was rewarded for my perseverance, but if this had been my first Trollope book I may never have gotten hooked. (BTW Small House at Allington was my introduction to Trollope and I loved it.)

bibliophiliac said...

I'm so happy to find another Trollope fanatic. The Last Chronicle of Barset is a book that deeply affected me. It is definitely one of Trollope's best. I too was sorry to leave Barsetshire behind: then I began the Palliser novels. LOVE.

Ruth said...

I've never read a book by Anthony Trollope, so I just added him to my book list. I may have to check him out due to your great review! Thanks!