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Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
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Barchester Towers (1857)

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Chronicles of Barsetshire (2)

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3,032631,874 (4.17)5 / 519
  1. 21
    The canon in residence by Victor Whitechurch (CatyM)
    CatyM: More scheming, gossip and social justice in the Cathedral Close.
  2. 10
    Jane And Prudence by Barbara Pym (chrisharpe)
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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible. I swear Audible is keeping me going these days!

I bought this book because it’s reputed to be Trollope at his finest. Not having read that cynical old Victorian for some twenty-five years and having only read some of his purely political London-based novels, it felt a little different to be suddenly immersed in the far more restrained politics of clergymen in a small cathedral town. So it was a little while before I found my feet—and then suddenly I remembered why I’d liked Trollope in the first place.

There is a new Bishop of Barchester, and he is what Trollope calls Petticoated—but he’s not one hundred percent under the thumb of his wife. There’s an important matter of preferment to be decided—a job bringing with it a nice house and the then enormous sum of £1,200 a year—and the other prize in play is the lovely, widowed Eleanor Bond who also, oddly enough, brings £1,200 a year with her. The circling vultures with their beady eyes on these rich pickings are the odious chaplain Mr. Slope and the good-natured, heartless, scheming Stanhope siblings. There’s also a whole subtext about evangelical versus traditional Anglican church practices which will, alas, be lost on most modern readers, but since the main thrust of the novel lies in the scheming and the wooing of Eleanor, it’s easy enough to concentrate on that and not worry about the clerical details, which are not heavily emphasized.

I found Eleanor as wet as most Victorian heroines—quite literally since she bursts into tears a lot—and, alas, Mr. Arabin is way too noble and reserved to be really fascinating. My absolute favorites, by a long chalk, were Bertie Stanhope and Madeline Vesey-Neroni who were ADORABLE in their cynical worldliness and really, at the end of the day, quite likeable as human beings. Mr. Slope is the perfect slimy Victorian Pharisee whom everyone sees through in about three seconds flat, and the power struggle between Bishop and Mrs. Proudie is as entertaining as such things usually are.

I actually found myself wishing in the end that the novel was twice as long. We seemed to get to the resolution of the story much too quickly - that’s the beauty of taking your Victorians in the form of audiobooks! There were whole chapters where I grinned and/or laughed out loud throughout. Narrator David Timson was so utterly perfect that I’m very disappointed to find I can’t get the whole series with him as narrator on Audible. Nonetheless, I’m diving in and stepping backward to listen to the first book in the Barsetshire Chronicles, and then the rest. I’ve been away from Trollope for far too long.

UPDATE: I was horrified, on going back and checking, to discover that I'd listened to an abridged version. No wonder it seemed too short! That won't do at all. I'll be listening to the unabridged version as soon as I can get my hands on it. Still, for those who want to cut out the Victorian waffle and get to the interesting bits, I'd heartily recommend this version. ( )
  JaneSteen | Feb 21, 2015 |
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I really did not want it to end. David Shaw Parker is a terrific reader. Love the characters, love the place. love the language. Just bursting to share with friends. ( )
  njcur | Feb 10, 2015 |
The second novel in the Barsetshire Chronicles (I haven't read the first), telling the story of the new bishop of Barchester, Dr Proudie, and the power struggle that ensues in the diocese between Dr Proudie, his wife, his chaplain (Mr Slope) and Archdeacon Grantly. It also features the amiable but amoral Stanhope family and the femme fatale Signora Neroli, who apparently has the power to enslave any man.

The tone is gently humourous throughout, with the omniscient narrator confiding that he too dislikes certain characters, and hastening to assure the reader half way through that the heroine, Mrs Bold, will not marry either of the suitors we fear she might succumb to. The good end happily and the bad do alright as well. ( )
  pgchuis | Sep 16, 2014 |
The Oxford's introduction calls this is a novel "primarily to enjoy". Puzzling over why else I'd read a novel, I do see the point. I think Trollope has achieved classic status on the merits of his engaging style which continues to work in the present. He's also brilliant at simple statements that bring clarity to psychological and emotional insights which are complex in nature (chapter forty-two!). There's copious contemporary references that require several pages of endnotes to explain them all, but I only needed those when I was curious. I like that Trollope was invested enough in the clergy to know his subject matter while retaining an almost secular perspective with his coy insights and commentary; a gentle poking in the ribs while maintaining respect for the church.

The Warden was a stronger novel, a morality tale that supplied no easy answer. This was merely a series of social affairs as townsfolk scrimmage with their new chaplain and the various parties strive at romancing. Authorial insertions with their assurances about outcomes aren't the acts of "suicide" that Henry James called them, but they did take some zip out of the first read's enjoyment. Still I liked it all the way through (mild exception for too much introduction to the Ullathorne event and its irrelevant details). Like Dickens, Trollope relies on the charm of his characters to carry the story rather than a plot, and I liked the women especially. Madeline Stanhope would have stung my pride if I were younger but now I can be amused. Eleanor was another favourite, admirable for standing up for herself even when she was too quick to assume. ( )
  Cecrow | Jul 14, 2014 |
Trollope seems to be having a lot of fun in this second novel of his Chronicles of Barsetshire series making it an entertaining, almost light, book for this reader in spite of the length and the somewhat heavy issue the plot revolves around--the heated battles between England’s low and high church clergy. The story is full of clever, often laugh-out loud asides by a very present, quite friendly, somewhat cozy omniscient narrator who frequently parses the actions, thoughts, and feelings of the characters rather than just reporting them.

Most of the main characters from The Warden, first book in the series, are back, and it’s part of the fun to see how they are getting on with their lives, but there are many new and wonderful additions too, including a bishop cowed by his wife and curate, the oily manipulative Mr. Slope, the steeped in ancient Anglo-Saxon tradition Thorne siblings, and the scheming Stanhope family fresh from Italy and full of continental ways. Trollope writes characters who can be silly, weak, selfish, stubborn, pompous, and irresponsible and still you feel some sympathy for them. Like many Victorian novels Barchester Towers is long, but the ending is perfect, with every character arc and plot thread resolving in a way that is highly satisfying. ( )
1 vote Jaylia3 | Jul 8, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (45 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKay, DonaldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, FrederickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sadleir, MichaelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the latter days of July in the year 185-, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways - Who was to be the new Bishop?
Quotations
The outer world, though it constantly reviles us for our human infirmities and throws in our teeth the fact that being clergymen we are still no more than men, demands of us that we should do our work with godlike perfection. There is nothing god-like about us: we differ from each other with the acerbity common to man; we triumph over each other with human frailty; we allow differences on subjects of divine origin to produce among us antipathies and enmities which are anything but divine. This is all true. But what would you have in place of it? There is no infallible head for a church on earth.
It was dreadful to be thus dissevered from his dryad, and sent howling back to a Barchester pandemonium just as the nectar and ambrosia were about to descend on the fields of asphodel.
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Book description
blurb: Barchester Towers is Trollope’s most popular novel and one of the classics of English fiction. It is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire, which follow the intrigues of ambition and love in the cathedral town of Barchester. Trollope was of course interested in the church, that pillar of Victorian society - in its susceptibility to corruption, hypocrisy, and blinkered conservatism - but the Barsetshire novels are no more ‘ecclesiastical’ than his Palliser novels are political. It is the behavior of individuals within a power structure that interests him. In Barchester Towers Trollope continues the story of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor, adding to his cast of characters that oily symbol of progress Mr. Slope, the hen pecked Dr. Proudie, and the amiable and breezy Stanhope family. The central questions of this moral comedy - Who will be warden? Who will be dean? Who will marry Eleanor? - are skillfully handled with that subtlety of ironic observation that has won Trollope such a wide and appreciative relationship.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140432035, Paperback)

This 1857 sequel to The Warden wryly chronicles the struggle for control of the English diocese of Barchester. The evangelical but not particularly competent new bishop is Dr. Proudie, who with his awful wife and oily curate, Slope, maneuver for power. The Warden and Barchester Towers are part of Trollope's Barsetshire series, in which some of the same characters recur.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:09 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

After the death of old Dr. Grantly, a bitter struggle begins over who will succeed him as Bishop of Barchester. And when the decision is finally made to appoint the evangelical Dr. Proudie, rather than the son of the old bishop, Archdeacon Grantly, resentment and suspicion threaten to cause deep divisions within the diocese. Trollope's masterly depiction of the plotting and back-stabbing that ensues lies at the heart of one of the most vivid and comic of his Barsetshire novels, peopled by such very different figures as the saintly Warden of Hiram's Hospital, Septimus Harding, the ineffectual but well-meaning new bishop and his terrifying wife, and the oily chaplain Mr. Slope who has designs on Mr. Harding's daughter.… (more)

» see all 15 descriptions

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Audible.com

12 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432035, 0141199113

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