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Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

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 56 (next | show all)
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 |
How I have enjoyed living in the world of Barchester for the last few days. Trollope has a genius for names: Sir Omicron Pie, the famous physician with his name made up of Greek letters; Dr. Fillgrave, another physician (whose skills one just might not trust); Farmer Greenacre; and my favourite, Reverend and Mrs. Quiverful with their 14 hungry mouths to feed. His quiver was full indeed!

The political jostlings and jugglings of a group of clergymen is as nothing to the power of one Bishop's wife. Mrs. Proudie is a force to be reckoned with as she goes toe to toe with Obadiah Slope, her Bishop's chaplain. And there's another name: Slope is indeed on a slippery slope with his sloping around Barchester, trying to make preemptive strikes in his power struggle with Mrs. Proudie.

In the midst of it all is the beautiful widow, Eleanor Bold, with her very comfortable income, a prize sought after by those seeking power or a way out of their financial impecuniousness. She gets buffeted between the thunderous blustering of her brother in law, the Archdeacon Grantly, and the strangely seductive and odd Stanhope family, who hope to fob off Bertie Stanhope on her. Will she find true love? Will her reputation and virtue remain intact? But she's no milquetoast or shrinking violet. Eleanor Bold can haul off and hit an offending swain a good one as well as defending herself verbally when pushed too far. Beautiful, sweet, and gentle she may be but she's no pushover.

The best discovery in reading Trollope for the first time was to learn how wonderfully funny he is. He has such a good comedic eye, whether he is having a farmer's son trip his own horse while attempting to stab a sack of flour, or playing with the disparity between the classes with all their attendant snobberies. He plays Hob with the Church of England, poking fun at high church affectations while defrocking plain church piety. Although he wrote in the 1800s, his awareness of human foibles is fresh and pertinent. I greatly look forward to the rest of this series. ( )
4 vote tiffin | Feb 12, 2014 |
"[W]hen everything is done, the kindest-hearted critic of them all invariably twits us with the incompetency and lameness of our conclusion. We have either become idle and neglected it, or tedious and over-laboured it. It is insipid or unnatural, over-strained or imbecile. It means nothing, or attempts too much. . . . I can only say that if some critic, who thoroughly knows his work, and has laboured on it till experience has made him perfect, will write the last fifty pages of a novel in the way they should be written, I, for one, will in future do my best to copy the example."
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
I liked The Warden okay, but this is something else- a first rate comic novel in the tradition of Austen. But unlike Austen, Trollope's best moments come in the politics rather than in the romance. Everything you assume about each character is undermined: so and so looks like a knee jerk conservative, but ends up doing the most to further the cause of progress, and vice versa. Basically, it'd be good for anyone who thinks about politics to read this, and realize that individuals are far more important than parties.
Also, all the great eccentric characters had me smirking and smiling on every page. Signora Neroni and her brother Bertie will surely live on as long as there's a way to read. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
My husband told me it would be like a Susan Howatch novel "without the moral turpitude." Though skeptical at first, I did end up finding it quite delightful. If Victorian ecclesiastical soap opera sounds like your cup of tea, you might find it similarly worthwhile. ( )
  LudieGrace | Dec 4, 2013 |
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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?
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.
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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 8 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432035, 0141199113

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