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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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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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 |
(10) Second book of 'The Chronicles of Barsetshire' series from Anthony Trollope. I don't know - just OK for me. A bit better than 'The Warden.' Same cast of characters in this cathedral town outside of London in the 1850's. A new bishop is appointed much to Archdeacon Grantly's chagrin. Bishop Proudie is his wife's pawn and espouses the reform 'low-church' principles. Being American these are harder to grasp concepts for me but I get it --> really just the Catholic vs. Protestant ideals on a smaller stage. There are also some Austenesque-type courtship misunderstandings and flirtations. And we are introduced to the local gentry, the Thornes, which I think may have a bigger role to play in some later installments.

Overall, not a whole lot happens and the scenes are incredibly repetitive. Which is my same complaint with all of the Trollope novels I have read. Really the main conflict seems trivial and seems that it could be resolved in one scene but instead takes the entire novel. The characters are indeed well-drawn and I did like the climactic party at the Thornes and the Stanhope family.

In general, I am mildly enjoying this series but definitely had higher expectations. I think they will continue to grow on me and I will keep reading them. I personally have enjoyed other Victorian novelists more, in particular, George Eliot, even Dickens. Generates enough interest to keep reading and I love the time period but a bit dull in the main. ( )
  jhowell | Apr 23, 2014 |
I’m officially a Chronicles of Barsetshire convert and I have Eleanor Bold to thank for it. The character took a stand for herself and her father in The Warden, but it wasn’t until Barchester Towers that I really grew to love the fiery widow. She could be Lizzie Bennet if Darcy had (God forbid!) died after they were married.

Barchester Towers picks up a few years after The Warden. Eleanor has become a widow and now has a son. No one has taken over the wardenship that her father, Mr. Harding, left at the end of the first book. The race is on to see who will be named the new Warden and who will become the Dean in Barchester. We also meet a new cast of characters including the hapless Bertie Stanhope and his sister, the conniving Mr. Slope, the unhappily married Proudies and a vicar from Oxford, Francis Arabin.

In that same Pride and Prejudice vein, Obadiah Slope is Mr. Collins. The Bishop's chaplain is working hard to move up in the world, but he is just not a likeable character. Even when Eleanor is attempting to be kind to him, she still can’t make herself like him. He bases his search for a wife on income instead of love and so he sets his sights on the newly widowed Eleanor who is now a wealthy woman. In order to woo her he attempts to get her father’s wardenship back for him. Poor Reverend Quiverful has already been offered the wardenship, which would go a long way to feeding his 14 children.

Septimus Harding, the main character from The Warden, once again demonstrates his excellent character in this book. No matter what people offer him or what they tell him he deserves, in the end he always wants what is best for the community. He is such a kind man. Even when his daughter’s taste in gentlemen callers is being questioned, he makes his loyalties clear without yet knowing her thoughts. He stands by her and supports all of her actions. Eleanor’s relationship with her father is one of the highlights of the novel for me.

The thing I'm beginning to realize I love about Trollope's work is his collection of female characters. He creates vibrant women who are the real strength behind the weak or petty men they are married to. Mrs. Proudie might be a bit of a villain, but she's also a force to be reckoned with. Everyone in Barchester knows that her husband, the Bishop, isn’t the real decision-maker in their household. As he struggles with the question of who should get the wardenship, she makes the decision and moves forward with her choice without him.

Mrs. Quiverful does the same thing, but out of her concern for her children’s welfare. She sees her husband's unwillingness to fight for what she believes is rightfully theirs as weak and selfish. She decides to make her own plan and go about getting the wardenship for him.

My favorite female character, of course, is Eleanor Bold. She turns down multiple suitors who are after her money. She stands up to her stuffed shirt brother-in-law, Archdeacon Grantly and remains loyal to her father above all. She is at times righteous, sarcastic, and vulnerable, a fully realized character with a complicated range of emotions. We watch her fall in love and we root for her to end up with the right man. I've grown to admire her for her strength and principles throughout the first two books. In The Warden she was willing to give up her love for her fiancé in order to protect her family dignity. In this book she stands up for her right to privacy and freedom when Grantly believes her acquaintance with Slope is inappropriate. She doesn’t love Slope, but she’s furious that someone thinks they have the right to tell her who she can or can't associate with.

BOTTOM LINE: Just like The Warden, it took me a minute to get into this one, but once I did I loved it! Eleanor Bold is one of my favorite characters I’ve encountered in a long while. I hope she plays a role in the upcoming books as well!

“How many shades there are between love and indifference, and how little the graduated scale is understood!”

“Till we can become divine, we must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for change we sink to something lower.” ( )
1 vote bookworm12 | Apr 14, 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?
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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 13 descriptions

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