I have read Framley Parsonage twice. The first time I liked it just okay. The second time I loved it. Listening to it was PURE DELIGHT. All the BBC Radio 4 adaptations of the Barchester series have featured a narrator-housekeeper. She may not exist in the novels, but, she certainly helps listeners out. (I believe Trollope used the third person omniscient narrative style.)
Premise/plot: Framley Parsonage is the fourth novel in the Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope. In my opinion, the women characters are the greatest strength of this novel. Mark's wife, Fanny; Mark's sister, Lucy; Miss Dunstable; Mrs. Crawley; even more difficult to like characters like Mrs. Harold Smith, Mrs. Proudie, and Lady Lufton.
So what is this one about? Mark Robarts is a vicar at Framley. He is married to a wonderful woman, Fanny, whose true strength and courage is not obvious at first or second glance perhaps. He gets into big, big trouble when he decides to sign his name alongside his new friend's name on a bill. Embarrassed that he could be held responsible for the money if his friend proves to be anything but, he keeps it a secret from almost everyone in his life. That bill--and another that follows it--haunt him throughout the novel until he has his epiphany moment.
At one point, Mark's sister, Lucy, comes to stay at the parsonage. Lord Lufton, Mark's close friend, falls in love with Lucy. But their love seems doomed almost from the start since Lady Lufton (Lord Lufton's (busybody) mother has set ideas about who is and isn't appropriate for her son to marry. She visits Fanny and tells her that Lord Lufton is off limits and that Lucy should make herself scarce. Fanny tells Lucy that she shouldn't fall in love with Lord Lufton, but it's too late.) Will Lord Lufton stand up to his mother? Will Lucy agree to be his wife? Will the novel end with a wedding?
Miss Dunstable, whom we met before, is still very much single. There are still men in pursuit of her. Mrs. Harold Smith would have her unworthy brother--admittedly unworthy, a scoundrel--Mr. Sowerby marry the incredibly wealthy Miss Dunstable. She even proposes on his behalf. But Miss Dunstable doesn't want that kind of husband. The man she has in mind, well, is more honorable: Dr. Thorne!
Mr. Sowerby features a lot in this one, for better or worse. But every novel, make that every Victorian novel, needs a character to boo and hiss at when they enter the scene, right?!
I really LOVED the characters of Lucy and Fanny and Miss Dunstable. The story line where Mary is trying to play matchmaker with her uncle, Dr. Thorne, and Miss Dunstable were priceless. I adored this couple so much.
Lucy was such a gem of a heroine. She was witty and compassionate. Her observations were great.
I also REALLY loved the fact that so many familiar faces pop up in this one. Even if old friends just show up for a couple of scenes, they're still there, still a reminder that Barchester is a place I'd love to visit.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews