This is the first book I’ve ever read of Anthony Trollope. I liked it well enough to add it’s sequel, Barchester Towers to my reading list. I give it four stars. It took a while to get into it, and the warm-up and detailed description at points seemed quite drawn out, but the character development crept up on you until you were alert and fully on board without noticing it happening. The modernly appropriate critique of the media was fascinating for 1853, and as it still holds true, I found it the most interesting part of the book. Some characters were tinged with satire, but the work over all was too sensitive and contemplative to consider it satirical as a whole.
The main character, the Warden, is faced with a moral dilemma and the book is simply the wrestling out of this fact, complicated by the fact that each of his two daughters is partnered with a man representing one of the two opposing view points in the matter. A reader of this novel needs to look beyond the apparent simplicity of the plot, and get past what some may consider a petty clerical issue blown all out of proportion. All human issues seem greater to those involved than onlookers after all, and Trollope does a good job letting us view the situation fairly and objectively without making judgements or rendering anyone as black and white. He believes in the “gray” of human nature to such an extent that he claims there is “no unalloyed good” — which I would argue — but that is the kind of comment tucked down every side-street of this benign novel, that if read with sensitive attention, will reward any reader with plenty to think about.
If you were in the Warden’s shoes, what would you have done? As a basically ethical person, that answer for me was not at all clear cut, and this highlights beautifully the basic nature of any moral struggle.