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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 Barsetshire Chronicles (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
I read this slowly and savored it. Each character is so carefully delineated and perfect for the role they play. Trollope pulls off making Mr Harding very good, somewhat weak, and almost wholly admirable. Eleanor is a bit annoying at times but that's the part she has to play.

In his preface, Galbraith says that Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope seize the foreground and hold the reader's attention, and I can't disagree. The Archdeacon almost matches them, but unfortunately they have too few scenes together. But Proudie and Slope are amazing. They are such monsters and yet so utterly human. Like Galbraith, I appreciated and almost liked Mrs Proudie by the end. Slope, not so much, but he was perfect. The scenes with Quiverfull, the scene with Eleanor.

And the Stanhopes. What perfectly dreadful people. How does Trollope draw amorality so well without making them monsters.

Finally, the Church politics. It's brilliant. Reading it in 2016 is comforting in a way because I am reminded that there are awful and wonderful people in every era, and somehow we survive the former with the help of the latter. ( )
  Sunita_p | Mar 17, 2016 |
After feeling lukewarm about The Warden. I'm happy to report that I loved Barchester Towers and am totally on board with Trollope's Barsetshire series (after loving the Palliser series).

This novel brings back certain characters from the first book: Mr. Harding and his two daughters. Eleanor Bold, who got married at the end of the first novel, is now widowed with an infant child, and her much older sister, Susan, is still married to the archdeacon, Dr. Grantly, and living at Plumstead. But there is a new bishop in town, Dr. Proudie, who is anathema to the archdeacon because he holds a different view of the church's responsibilities, and who is married to a completely controlling woman, Mrs. Proudie, who is an amazing character. The chaplain to the bishop is Mr. Slope, a sleazy, lying, scheming man, who at the beginning thinks he can act as the bishop because the bishop and his wife are often in London. Then there are the Stanhopes: the father a churchman who has been living by Lake Como in Italy but is summoned home by the new bishop, the mother often ill, and three remarkable children. Charlotte runs the family, Bertie is a ne'er-do-well who is constantly in debt, and Madeline, a beauty, had been married to an Italian who apparently beat her so severely that she is crippled and has to be carried everywhere. This doesn't interfere with her purpose in life, which is getting men to fall in love with her and then tossing them out.

The plot revolves around much ecclesiastical scheming -- and much romantic scheming. The ecclesiastical scheming involves the wardenship of the hospital (a home for poor old men, not a hospital in our terms) featured in The Warden and the role of the dean, who falls ill in the novel and ultimately dies. It also involves a clash between the old-timers in Barchester, who seem (according to the copious notes in my Oxford World Classics edition) to be higher church than the newcomers (who seem to have an obsession with Sunday schools). Dr. Grantly enlists several outsiders to help him fight the bishop. The romantic scheming mostly involves Eleanor, who has inherited a sizable income from Mr. Bold. Mr. Slope, in his sleazy way, wants to marry her, and Charlotte encourages Bertie to make a play for her too, while inserting herself as Eleanor's new best friend. Everyone thinks Eleanor is going to marry Mr. Slope, which strikes horror into all of them, but Trollope tells us midway through the book that Eleanor won't marry either Mr. Slope or Bertie. There is another man, which this reader spotted as Eleanor's new husband early on, but Trollope takes us through so many twists and turns that I couldn't figure out how it would happen. Eventually, as I've come to realize is Trollope's habit, good triumphs and the bad fail.

Onward with the Barsetshire series!
1 vote rebeccanyc | Feb 7, 2016 |
I think that this is one of the few times when I preferred reading the book over listening to it. Simon Vance does a fine job with the narration (although I don't think his voice for Slope was quite right) but it was a bit too easy to lose focus and miss some of the snide humor in Trollope's asides & I found myself having to rewind (so to speak) often.

However, my rating is primarily based on the last quarter of the book as I switched to this library audiobook from the Librivox recording. Maybe I would feel differently if I had listened to this one the whole way through... ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 23, 2015 |
Barchester Towers is the second of Anthony Trollope's books set in the fictional county of Barsetshire. I read the first, The Warden and, while appreciating the writing, never fell in love with the book. I had the same experience with Barchester Towers, until halfway through when things took off and I could not stop reading.

Like The Warden, Barchester Towers is largely concerned with wrangling between groups of Anglican clergymen, some of whom want to reform the system and others who have benefited from what is essentially an old boys network and are deeply invested in keeping things as they are. Trollope is clearly on the side of tradition, which left me siding with the obvious villains of the piece. Here, a new bishop is appointed by the government and it isn't the pompous Grantly, but Proudie (it must be said that Trollope's names are not as good as Dickens'), who arrives with not only a wife who expects a voice in matters, but also a personal clergyman, Mr Slope, whose ambitions manage to alienate everyone. And so the church in Barchester is split into two factions, both jostling for power, mainly in the appointment of various sinecures.

Trollope does a lovely job writing his female characters. While he's a big proponent of people knowing their place, he writes women as real people, with as much intelligence and personality as any of his male characters. And my favorite was Mrs Proudie, a woman accustomed to being in charge and who, when briefly thwarted, becomes a force to be reckoned with. Trollope also has an entertaining habit of going all meta here and there, to point out who the villains are, or to explain how he has tailored his story in order to fulfill the expectations of the reader.

On the other hand, I found Trollope frustrating in a few regards. He has a tendency to put some of the most interesting scenes outside of the story, so that the reader is only told of the result of a fabulous conflict or romantic interlude. This was a great disappointment, especially when an encounter has been foreshadowed and anticipated for some time. A paragraph or two telling the reader what happened is not good enough, Mr Trollope! He also has a habit of telling the reader things about the characters' personalities which are not bourn out in the telling of the story. Not only is he telling-not-showing, but he's telling us things that just aren't true. Specifically, that Mrs Proudie is a villain, or that a certain family is devoid of heart - despite Trollope telling the reader this several times, their actions show this to simply not be true.

I'm interested enough in the doings in Barsetshire to continue with the series, but I have my issues with Mr Trollope. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Sep 17, 2015 |
After The Warden, another excellent visit to Barsetshire, and another book I had a difficult time putting down. Trollope improves here on his gentle wittiness, absolutely delightful small-scale ecclesiastical Machiavellian scheming, and complicated human dynamics.

I'm quite enjoying the way Trollope interacts with the reader in these books, too: it almost always made me smile. And he continues to create some extremely memorable characters, from the delightfully odd Miss Thorne to the sneaky creature Mr. Slope and the not-to-be-messed-with Mrs. Proudie.

Looking forward to heading back to Barsetshire before too long ... ( )
2 vote JBD1 | Aug 28, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (113 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bowen, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKay, DonaldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, FrederickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sadleir, MichaelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tillotson,KathleenIntroductionsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:20 -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 14 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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