by Anthony Trollope
The second of the two Barchester novels that I had read previously. This time I feel inclined to continue with the other four novels in the series; though perhaps not straight away.
This was my favourite on last reading, and it still is. A perfect novel: engaging and interesting characters, all of them with some weaknesses; a story with enough suspense and twists and turns that, even though the author gives clues to the reader in various asides as to what is or is not going to happen, there is still enough reason to keep reading in order to find out what happens. The scenes are carefully and convincingly set, particularly the garden party at the Thornes’ country house.
When I first read this novel and its predecessor, The Warden, I was mainly taken with the very well-observed and carefully crafted depictions of organisational politics. Though the era and the organisational setting were very different, the behaviours were entirely recognisable as being those of colleagues in the organisation for which I worked at that time. Trollope has a wonderful insight into the human condition, and the ways in which different character traits play out in the expectations and behaviours of their possessors. Since most of his main characters in these two novels are clergymen, one might suppose that Trollope would pass judgment on the conflict between their spiritual calling and their temporal ambitions. In the main, though, the author keeps silent and lets the characters’ actions speak for them. Even such a worldly, ambitious, impatient man as Dr Grantly, the archdeacon, has his virtues, and can be believed to be sincere in his faith.