Monday, January 16, 2017

The Kellys and the O'Kellys

The Kellys and the O'Kellys. Anthony Trollope. 1848. 537 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: During the first two months of the year 1844, the greatest possible excitement existed in Dublin respecting the State Trials, in which Mr O’Connell, his son, the Editors of three different repeal newspapers, Tom Steele, the Rev. Mr Tierney — a priest who had taken a somewhat prominent part in the Repeal Movement — and Mr Ray, the Secretary to the Repeal Association, were indicted for conspiracy.

Premise/plot: Anthony Trollope's second novel, The Kellys and the O'Kellys, chronicles the romances of two men, a Mr. Martin Kelly, and Frank O'Kelly (aka Lord Ballindine). Like Trollope's first novel, it is set in Ireland. Though from different social classes, there is a friendship, of sorts, between the two men. At various times, for various reasons, they seek out one another's company.

In fact, the novel opens with Mr. Martin Kelly going to Lord Ballindine for advice. He wants to marry Anty Lynch. He thinks she's say yes. But there's an obstacle: her brother, Barry. Neither thinks Barry will consent to the marriage. Martin doesn't know if he should try to get her to elope with him and deal with the brother after the fact, or, if he should try to get the brother's consent and risk losing Anty. One thing is clear, he doesn't want anyone thinking that he's trying to take advantage of Anty and manipulate her into marriage. Why? Because she is richer than him, she's recently benefited from her father's will. Barry has issues. Issues is an understatement. He's bitter, angry, and drunk ninety percent of the time. Angry and bitter that their father's will provided for Anty; angry and bitter that he didn't get it all. In truth, he begrudges Anty the air she breathes.

Barry finds out that Anty and Mr. Martin might marry, that there is some talk of a marriage between the two. Barry decides to beat up his sister--remember he has two states 'drunk' and 'asleep.' She's savagely attacked by him, and threatened. He'd rather see her dead than married. A brave servant girl slips out of the house the next morning to go and tell Mrs. Kelly--Martin's mother--what's happened. Mrs. Kelly comes and fetches the girl--while Barry's asleep--to her own home. Martin's mother and sisters will care for her and protect her--as best they can--from Barry. Mrs. Kelly is an awesome defender who can hold her own.

Martin Kelly returns from his visit to see Lord Ballandine and learns all that is happened.

Meanwhile, Lord Ballindine is entertaining the idea of marriage himself. He's in fact engaged to marry a Miss Fanny Wyndham. Soon after the novel opens, he hears from an acquaintance, that HIS match has been broken off. The marriage isn't to be after all. He rushes to Grey Abbey--where she is staying with her aunt and uncle, her guardians--and is confronted with all kinds of unpleasantness. Lord Cashel, the uncle, has changed his mind entirely, and, has persuaded Fanny that it's in her best interest to call off the engagement. The truth is UGLY. Fanny's brother has died; Fanny went from being moderately wealthy to ridiculously wealthy. Lord Cashel wants his own son, Lord Kilcullen, to marry Fanny. He needs Ballindine out of the way. Lord Cashel won't let him see her, and forbids him to come to the house or write.

Lord Ballandine loves Fanny and is determined to marry her. He won't be easily dissuaded.

The book alternates back and forth between these two dramatic love stories.

My thoughts: This one is DRAMATIC but good. Trollope created some memorable characters in this one. I really loved getting to spend time with Fanny especially! I liked Anty well enough, I suppose, but she spent a lot of time in bed almost dying. Anty is one of those good--practically saintly--characters. Imagine someone apologizing for still breathing, and you've got the right idea. Anty's biggest flaw is that she wants every single person to be happy and get what they want. And that's just not possible. Fanny was a strong character, for the most part. Yes, she was persuaded--for a day, maybe two, to follow her uncle's advice, but she remains true to her heart, and VOCAL about what she wants. Martin Kelly and Lord Ballandine (Frank) were GREAT heroes. I really enjoyed spending time with these two. I didn't prefer one story to the other really. Both were compelling.

I really enjoyed Trollope's writing. He sketches scenes and characters very well! Here's a description of Sally, one of Mrs. Kelly's servants.
Mrs. Kelly kept two ordinary in-door servants to assist in the work of the house; one, an antiquated female named Sally, who was more devoted to her tea-pot than ever was any bacchanalian to his glass. Were there four different teas in the inn in one evening, she would have drained the pot after each, though she burst in the effort. Sally was, in all, an honest woman, and certainly a religious one; — she never neglected her devotional duties, confessed with most scrupulous accuracy the various peccadillos of which she might consider herself guilty; and it was thought, with reason, by those who knew her best, that all the extra prayers she said, — and they were very many, — were in atonement for commissions of continual petty larceny with regard to sugar.
On this subject did her old mistress quarrel with her, her young mistress ridicule her; of this sin did her fellow-servant accuse her; and, doubtless, for this sin did her Priest continually reprove her; but in vain. Though she would not own it, there was always sugar in her pocket, and though she declared that she usually drank her tea unsweetened, those who had come upon her unawares had seen her extracting the pinches of moist brown saccharine from the huge slit in her petticoat, and could not believe her.
Favorite quotes:
Time and the hour run through the longest day.
It’s difficult to make an Irishman handy, but it’s the very devil to make him quiet.
“But the great trial in this world is to behave well and becomingly in spite of oppressive thoughts: and it always takes a struggle to do that, and that struggle you’ve made. I hope it may lead you to feel that you may be contented and in comfort without having everything which you think necessary to your happiness. I’m sure I looked forward to this week as one of unmixed trouble and torment; but I was very wrong to do so. It has given me a great deal of unmixed satisfaction.”
I tell you plainly, Selina, I will not forget myself, nor will I be forgotten. Nor will I submit to whatever fate cold, unfeeling people may doom me, merely because I am a woman and alone. I will not give up Lord Ballindine, if I have to walk to his door and tell him so. And were I to do so, I should never think that I had forgotten myself.” “Listen to me, Fanny,” said Selina. “Wait a moment,” continued Fanny, “I have listened enough: it is my turn to speak now. For one thing I have to thank you: you have dispelled the idea that I could look for help to anyone in this family.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Joy Weese Moll said...

These do sound like dramatic romances!