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Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

Doctor Thorne (1858)

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Barsetshire Chronicles (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,575517,124 (4.1)6 / 330
  1. 40
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (atimco)
    atimco: Trollope has an Austenesque eye for his characters' motivations and inconsistencies, and his Mary Thorne and Austen's Elizabeth Bennett have much in common. Both are persecuted on the basis of low birth and lack of wealth by an older female relative of their love interest. Both novels are thoroughly enjoyable!… (more)
  2. 20
    Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (atimco)
    atimco: Trollope's Mary Thorne and Gaskell's Molly Gibson have much in common: both their father-figures are country doctors with connections to the local nobility, both fall in love with a man above them in station and wealth, both face undeserved public shame in their social circles, and both are sensible, intelligent heroines.… (more)
  3. 00
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (morryb)
    morryb: Both speak to the struggle of adopting a child and then letting them up later.
  4. 00
    Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (morryb)
    morryb: Both tell of the struggle of adopting a child and letting go later on.

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
To set the stage: Mary Thorne, at the age of twelve, comes to live with her uncle, Doctor Thorne. She is sent to him when Dr Thorne's sister (Mary's mother) runs away to Australia and Mary's father (Dr. Thorne's brother) is murdered by Roger Scatcherd, Mary's mother's brother. Did you get all that? To complicate things, Dr. Thorne is also the financial advisor to Mary's mother's brother, Roger. Essentially Mary has two uncles. But this is a big secret for most of the book.
On with the plot - As Mary grows up she attracts the attention of Frank Gresham but unfortunately for Frank, Mary is not marriage material. She doesn't come from money so his family opposes a proposal. His mother prefers Martha Dunstable as a suitable wife. The only problem is Miss Dunstable and Frank become great friends and mutually agree romance is not in the cards. As an aside, their friendship is wonderful. As Roger Scatcherd's financial advisor, Dr. Thorne knows how much money Roger leaves to his son after drinking himself to death. When Roger's son is nearing the same fate, Dr. Thorne has to spill the genealogy beans in order to make sure Mary is in the will and gets her fair share of Roger's original inheritance. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 23, 2019 |
About 200 pages in, a parliamentary candidate is dismissed by the book's hero as a "muff" because it is discovered that he would "vote for an extension of the franchise, and the admission of the Jews into Parliament."

So, on the one hand I will probably keep reading these as they're delightful Victorian romances. But on the other hand, fuck you Anthony Trollope, you dirty Jew-hating asshat. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Dr. Thorne is a distant cousin to the Thornes of Ullathorne, minor characters in 'Barchester Towers', who moved to Greshamsbury years before after his bristling pride and steadfast devotion to his dissipated, and now dead, brother burned all of his bridges in Barchester proper. He has a small practice and gives all of his affection to his young niece, Mary. His friendship with the old squire leads to Mary growing up with the squire's grandchildren and having all the benefits of a genteel education.

Trollope opens 'Doctor Thorne' giving us readers the chance to pick our hero. He prefers the titular Thorne, but allows that they may have Frank Gresham. Frank Gresham is heir, but as his father and mother, a daughter of the Earl de Coucy, have bankrupted the estate with election schemes and extravagant visits to Town, all will be lost unless he marries a great deal of money. Unfortunately, he has already fallen in love.

We have no choice in heroine. Observing every social duty and Victorian obligation, Mary Thorne is the acknowledged niece of the doctor but she is told nothing of her parents and of course must never trouble her pretty head about it. She all but grew up with Frank Gresham and his sisters, but when he tells her he loves her she is to be put through years of mental anguish and suffering.

Trollope goes to great lengths to remind the reader that Mary is entirely blameless. She offers no encouragement to Frank, however much she may want to, but she becomes a social pariah from mere suspicion. Lady Arabella, Franks mother, bars her from the house and from consorting with her children, despite still needing Dr. Thorne's services. Mary's low birth connections are known only to her uncle, the squire, and eventually, the squire's son - her prospective husband. No real thought is given to telling her, even when she pleads with her uncle to know who her mother was. Dr. Thorne wants to shield her from her low connections, even at the expense of her happiness.

In the opening chapter there is a lengthy exposition about the happiness of England in being one of the few places on Earth where the land is in the hands of the truly noble. With grinning irony the readers are asked to name the leading lights of other nations and compare them with the far longer list of those they know hailing from England. As much as the actions of the characters in the novel prove the lie of that boast, the truly noble are thoughtless, cruel and overall grasping for the money that fuels their privilege. Even our secondary hero, who pledges to give up everything for love, admits that he's useless for anything practical and takes no steps to remedy that fact in the months and months Mary is isolated and slandered. Even after the last page of the novel I wasn't sure if she shouldn't have gotten clean away from the place after all.

The writing is clever. While we don't get much more than statements about what is in Dr. Thorne's, or Mary's or Lady Arabella's heads at any given time, the social needs of the time are well displayed. Humor a shade more biting than previously seen in Barsetshire covers the squabbles between medical men, the mechanics of electioneering - complete with negative campaigning, and the high-stakes of wooing an heiress. He moralizes about the debilitating effects of strong drink and involves his readers with the moral dilemma of wanting a man's death while protesting, often and hard, that that isn't the case.

I didn't enjoy the plot, but the layers of social commentary make 'Doctor Thorne' a groundbreaking novel. I hope that some of the side characters, even poor snobbish Augusta, find their way into other novels later in the series, as Trollope seems to promise.

Consequently, I shall pay a visit to 'Framley Parsonage'. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 24, 2019 |
Doctor Thorne is the third novel in Anthony Trollope’s series known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire; set in Greshamsbury, a rural town many miles away from the cathedral city the was the setting for the first two novels.

Mr Francis Gresham is the squire of Greshamsbury, and as he story begins he is celebrating the coming of age of his only son, Frank, with his family and friends. The squire is rightly proud of his son, who is handsome, good-natured, and popular; and his great hope is that Frank will marry a wealthy heiress and restore the impoverished and debt-laden family estate.

Sir Roger Scatcherd has underwritten the debt. He was a man with humble roots who had survived a terrible scandal and achieved great success through his own labour; only to learn that he lived in a land where birth and bloodlines meant much, and where lesser men would look down on him and his family. And so when he could work no more he took refuge in drink, even when his good friend Doctor Thorne told him that was killing him.

Frank understands his father’s wishes, but he is besotted with the lovely Mary Thorne, who is the niece of the local doctor, and who grew up alongside Frank and his sisters. He would happily marry her, hope for the best, and, if the best didn’t happen, live a simpler life.

When Lady Arabella Gresham discovers her son’s interest in Mary Thorne, she is horrified. She was a De Courcey, she had been born into a family much grander than the Greshams, she understood the importance of doing the right and proper thing, and so she set about separating the young pair. It wasn’t simply a matter of money, it was also a matter of bloodlines.

When Frank made a declaration of love, Mary turned him away. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him; indeed she probably had deeper feelings for him than he had for her. She had just learned that she was illegitimate and, because she was young and idealistic, she told herself that she could not – would not – lower her young man and his family.

Doctor Thorne had made a promise, many years earlier, to keep Mary’s origins secret, and he kept that promise. He knew that if he spoke out there would be consequences for The House of Gresham and The House of Scatcherd, as well as the niece who he knows is a great lady in every way that is important. The secret is a great burden that many men would struggle with, it weighs heavily on him, but he believes that carrying it alone is the right thing to do.

Trollope spins his story around the three households – the established household of Mr Francis Gresham, the newly elevated household of Mr Francis Gresham and the professional household of Dr Thorne, caught between the two – wonderfully well; and that speaks profoundly of the workings of society and its failure to allow men and women to rise or fall, and of the wisdom and foolishness of those men and women.

The secret is fundamental and Trollope – who I am quite sure was a man could never keep a secret – sets out all of the facts for his readers early in the book, allowing them to empathise with Doctor Thorne and wonder if he really is going to be able to sort this one out satisfactorily by the end of the book.

He did – just about.

Along the way he presented some wonderful characters, relationships and situations.

I was particularly taken by Miss Dunstable, who was a wealthy woman with an independent spirit and a great deal of worldly wisdom. Frank set about courting her, to please his family, but she saw that his heart wasn’t in it, she got the truth out of him, and told him that they should be friends and that he really should follow his hear and pursue Mary Thorne.

Many authors would have made Frank the hero of this story, and Trollope acknowledges this in a wonderful aside:

“He would have been the hero of our tale had not that place been pre-occupied by the village doctor. As it is, those who please may regard him. It is he who is to be our favourite young man, to do the love scenes, to have his trails and his difficulties, and to win through them or not, as the case may be. I am too old now to be a hard-hearted author, and so it is probable that he may not die of a broken heart. Those who don’t approve of a middle-aged bachelor country doctor as a hero, may take the heir to Greshamsbury in his stead, and call the book, if it so please them, ‘The Loves and Adventures of Francis Newbold Gresham the Younger.”

I liked Frank, but the village doctor made a much better hero. He raised his niece as his own child, and he did it wonderfully well; he did what he felt was right as a doctor, while many of his contemporaries thought rather too much of their fees and their social standing; was a good friend to both Sir Roger and Mr Gresham; and he even stood up to Lady Annabel in full sail in a wonderful scene that shows Trollope at his best.

That is not to say that he was a paragon. He was something much better – a real and fallible man.

I found much to love in this book, but I didn’t love it quite as much as I had hoped I might. I think that was because the whole story was spun around one central romance that was drawn out a little too much, leaving quiet periods where I couldn’t help wondering what was going on in Barsetshire.

That’s not to say that I didn’t love the country. I did, and I would happily go back there again. But I can’t say that this book is a particular favourite, or that it is more than the sum of its parts, and I think that the next book – ‘Framley Parsonage’ is rather better constructed.

I can say that I love the memory of this book; and that it has grown on me since I finished reading.

I’m happy that I remember watching the story unfold, watching Mary and Frank mature, and reaching the ending that Trollope told me was inevitable at the start if the book. ( )
  BeyondEdenRock | Nov 30, 2018 |
The third in Trollope's "Barsetshire Chronicles" series of six books, set in a fictional county in mid-19th century England. This one tackles the tension between marrying to further bloodlines vs marrying for money. Frank Gresham, only son of the current squire of Greshamsbury (described as the highest-ranking commoner in the region) has the bloodlines, but his father has squandered a great deal of the fortune that should come Frank's way by vainly pursuing political office and supporting his wife, Lady Arabella, who is a sister of the current Earl deCourcy and will thank you not to forget it. Thus, even though Lady Arabella is the biggest snob you can imagine, she pressures Frank to pursue an heiress, bloodlines be damned. Similarly, she is prepared to accept into the family as husband to her eldest daughter an upstart tailor who has thousands of pounds of assets offsetting his vulgar background and occupation.

Frank's a good chap, and he'd like to do what his mama wants, but there's a problem. He's in love with Mary Thorne, niece and more-or-less adopted daughter of our titular character, who has neither money nor bloodlines to recommend her, only a sterling character. Lest we think snobbery is a luxury afforded only to the well-born, Trollope shows how Dr. Thorne and the lovely Mary are carrying around their own burden of family pride. In the doctor's case, it's his knowledge of Mary's sordid birth story, which he has carefully hidden from her all these years. His example has taught her that despite her lack of bloodlines she has no need to bow down to anyone. You can imagine how well that goes over with the odious Lady Arabella.

Trollope's conversational style goes down very easily, making him one of the most accessible 19th century authors I've read. While earlier books in the series ([The Warden] and [Barchester Towers] depended on the readers' knowledge of church and government politics of the day, Dr. Thorne is much more straightforward and easy to understand without a lot of background knowledge. And if you're tackling those first two and in need of the background knowledge as I was, you could do much worse than follow along with the tutored read threads hosted by Liz: The Warden and Barchester Towers, respectively. ( )
1 vote rosalita | May 30, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, AnthonyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dentith, SimonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reddick, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rendell, RuthIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trollope, JoannaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Before the reader is introduced to the modest country medical practitioner who is to be the chief personage of the following tale, it will be well that he should be made acquainted with some particulars as to the locality in which, and the neighbours among whom, our doctor followed his profession.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140433260, Paperback)

Son of a bankrupt landowner, Frank Gresham is intent on marrying his beloved Mary Thorne, despite her illegitimacy and apparent poverty. Frank's ambitious mother and haughty aunt are set against the match, however, and push him to save the family's mortgaged estate by making a good marriage to a wealthy heiress. Only Mary's loving uncle, Dr Thorne, knows the secret of her birth and the fortune she is to inherit that will make her socially acceptable in the eyes of Frank's family - but the high-principled doctor believes she should be accepted on her own terms. A telling examination of the relationship between society, money and morality, "Dr Thorne" (1858) is enduringly popular for Trollope's affectionate depiction of rural English life and his deceptively simple portrayal of human nature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:58 -0400)

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Character studies of a modest girl, her uncle, and her lover in west England.

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