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Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage (1861)

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Barsetshire Chronicles (4)

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1,486397,653 (4.01)5 / 269



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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Another lovely romance that follows similar lines to Doctor Thorne and also revisits some beloved characters from earlier in the Chronicles and marries them off beautifully too. I get a bit lost in all the politics and I'm not entirely sure what the Duke of Omnium is supposed to have done to earn so much opprobrium, but it all rattles along with good things happening to mostly good people and mostly bad people ending up with less, so who could possibly complain? Trollope's still a Jew-hating asshat, but everything else is delicious. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Framley Parsonage is not the continuation of the story of Doctor Thorne the way that Barchester Towers was of The Warden, but they have a good deal in common more than characters and setting.

Mark Robarts is a clergyman, not yet thirty, who has benefited from the patronage of his friend's mother, Lady Lufton. She chose him a devoted and capable wife and granted him the comfortable living of Framley at £800 a year. He lives perhaps too respectably, with a large household and a pony-chaise - things on the edge of propriety for a gentlemen of his standing and only just within his means. He has ambitions to move into even higher circles, even at the expense of his patroness' good opinion. With good intentions, he naively signs a note for dissolute politician Mr. Sowersby. The debt falls on Mark and he has to deal with the consequences towards not only his reputation but the happiness and security of his family. This conflict Mark's refusal to so anything at all about it makes up about a third of the novel, at least. It is frustrating and tedious. Thankfully, there are other people to follow.

Mark's sister, Lucy, comes to stay at the parsonage after the death of their father. She is a bright girl, but shy and without many of the higher refinements and accomplishments of other genteel women. Slowly, Lucy and young Lord Lufton form a mutual attachment. This further aggravates Lady Lufton, who would have her son marry a girl of her own choosing. Lucy, much like Mary Thorne in Doctor Thorne acts precisely within appropriate boundaries, but also speaks her mind and her conduct does much towards securing her own happiness. Lord Lufton, too, while not being entirely gallant, is not waiting on outside windfalls to accomplish his objectives, as Frank Gresham did. Trollope handles this conflict skillfully, one understands and sympathizes with Lady Lufton and her reasons in a way one couldn't Lady Arabella's. Arabella was a hostile hypocrite and the relationship of her and her family was incomprehensible outside the needs of the plot. In this novel Trollope got it right. The Luftons and the Robarts do argue and have fundamental disagreements, but they do so in a way that is compatible with their being friends and family.

The Robarts are acquainted with the Greshams, which brings the indomitable Miss Dunstable into play. She is still pursued by all manner of fortune-hunters, including Mr. Sowersby, but she is more than a match for them. Miss Dunstable persists in beating society at its own game. Her triumph was my favorite part of the novel. There are other subplots of course. The Grantlys, the Proudies, the Arabins and others all have their chance. Even the devious Mr. Sowersby and his shallow sister and his political friends have a chance to present themselves in a way that is understandable and entertaining. All of it adds to a richly layered novel about morality, convention, marriage and politics. Trollope has his characters act and behave in a way that is stylized and exaggerated enough for a novel, but still within the bounds of realism.

Next I go to The Small House at Allington ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Trollope often relies on the conniving abilities of women, but here there is even more devious trickery from men, in this case, Sowerby and Tozer. Like Mark Robarts - someone who deserves a good shake - Trollope had similar money troubles so he writes with experience. I enjoyed the return of some characters from earlier books, like Miss Dunstable and the Proudies. Trollope makes the reader feel like they are old acquaintances. I find this Victorian upper crust saga supremely entertaining.

My version was an audiobook with a top-notch reading by Simon Vance who, granted with Trollope's influence, can impart the character's personality with their first words. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jan 27, 2018 |
I totally love this series and especially David Shaw-Parker the narrator. It is nice to slow down and enjoy the language. Quite funny in places and always a happy ending. I like revisiting characters from past books though it isn't necessary to have read the earlier titles in the series. Each book stands alone quite well. ( )
  njcur | Sep 13, 2017 |
I've been having an uneven time of it in Barsetshire. One false start for The Warden before plowing ahead and really enjoying it, a small interval then Barchester Towers which I enjoyed after an initial disappointment that there was to be such a shift in characters. Then a much longer interval to Dr Thorne, which I enjoyed hugely. I was therefore looking forward to Framley Parsonage which turned out to be quite a different sort of beast. Perhaps, thinking about it, the problem for me is that Dr Thorne was the odd one out, being little concerned with clerical life. With Framley Parsonage we are firmly back in issues relating to the Church of England, and it being some time since I had last read about them I was struggling somewhat to remember the nuances of the power struggles and relationships of people whom I had last encountered in Barchester Towers. Dr Thorne at times felt like a cross between Austen and Dickens, in Framley Parsonage we are heading more into Dickens territory. From Austen we still have the difficulties of relationships across various social divides, from the near starving children of Mr Crawley "a strict, stern, unpleasant man, and one who feared God and his own conscience", a cleric made bitter by poverty and ill fortune, through to the Duke of Omnium, so grand that he is rarely seen and even more rarely heard.

Comfortably off, but still considerably below the half way point in this heap is Mark Robarts, who owes his living to the accident of having been placed for his education as a private pupil of a clergyman who was a friend of his father's. This clergyman had only one other pupil, the young Lord Lufton (it is not clear why he should have been there, but there he was). The boys became friends, and when Lady Lufton came to visit she would observe what she felt to be the good influence of Mark upon her son and commented to his father, a gentleman physician of no private means, that she hoped the boys would stay together throughout their education. Dr Robarts duly sent his son to Harrow and then to Oxford. Mark would frequently stay at Framley Court at the invitation of Lady Lufton, who continued to view him with affection as well as expecting him to continue to act for good on her son. On Mark's graduation, Lady Lufton conferred with Dr Robarts, and a decision was made that the Church would be good, and in a surprisingly short time Mark Robarts, still in his early twenties, became Vicar of Framley, the living of Framley being in the gift of Lady Lufton. Continuing her gentle but inexorable arranging of everything for the best, Lady Lufton, believing that a parson should have a wife, put in Mark's path a woman she felt would be suitable, a friend of her married daughter's, and, without either knowing their roles had been cast, the two fell in love and married.

It will be seen from this that Robarts and his wife, though not entirely Lady Lufton's creatures, had attained their good fortune through her; they were aware of it, and thankful to her for it, and Lady Lufton for her part, though kind and genuinely fond of both Mark and his wife, would subtly ensure that that awareness remained. Robarts was not given the Framley living simply out of affection, or even to keep him near as a brake on her son, but also because Lady Lufton had very particular views on church matters and wanted to ensure that the Vicar of Framley would not take a line with which she did not agree.

Temptation has already been set in Robarts' path by his upbringing - a boy and then a young man of no independent means spending much of his time in the company of a young baron and his, and his mother's circle, on the edge of, and familiar with, a life he cannot afford. If Lady Lufton loved Mark as a second son, it is not surprising that Mark should occasionally feel a son's rebelliousness at her rule.

Lady Lufton is particularly opposed to the Duke of Omnium and his followers, not only for their politics, but for their fast ways. The Duke is seen as a corrupter, and all within his circle tainted. One of that circle is Tom Sowerby, MP. "Mr Sowerby was one of those men who are known to be very poor - as poor as debt can make a man, but who, nevertheless, enjoy all the luxuries which money can give. It was believed that he could not live in England out of jail but for his protection as a member of Parliament, and yet it seemed that there was no end to his horses and carriages, his servants and retinue. He had been at this work for a great many years, and practice, they say makes perfect. Such companions are very dangerous. There is no cholera, no yellow fever, no small-pox, more contagious than debt. If one lives habitually among embarrassed men, one catches it to a certainty. No one had injured the community in this way more fatally than Mr Sowerby. But still he carried on the game himself; and now on this morning, carriages and horses thronged at his gate, as though he were as substantially rich as his friend the Duke of Omnium."

Mark is aware that Lord Lufton has mixed with Sowerby and run up considerable debts through his influence. Mark is invited to Chaldicotes, Sowerby's home, for a weekend, convinces himself that it would be a good thing to go,particularly as he knows that some more elevated clerics will be there, and that it is time he stopped following Lady Lufton's wishes in everything, even if his living is in her hands. His courage falls short of facing his patroness however, and he tells his wife to break the news of his absence. During the weekend Mark is told that the Duke of Omnium expects him to join the party at Gartherum Castle. Despite knowing how great a transgression this would be in the eyes of Lady Lufton, Mark writes home, asking his wife to send him some money and to once again break the news to Lady Lufton. Thus set up the naive vicar is an easy target for Sowerby, who asks him to sign a note to cover a debt. At this point the whole novel seemed to be too deterministically taking Mark Robarts down the road to ruin to make the book seem worth reading. The very splendid Miss Dunstable, a clever independently minded heiress introduced in Dr Thorne, appears, though there is not enough of her. There is a love story, which kept this going for me, though I read that Trollope said there was a love story only because there had to be one, and there is an awful lot of space given over to clumsy and tedious (though perhaps thought witty at the time) commentary on Parliamentary politics - elections, reversals of fortunes, and changes of government, with matters being referred to as battle between the gods and the giants, references to changes in social habits and attitudes of the time (the new fashion for dining a la russe, opinions on clergy riding to hounds, etc.) and a lot of stuff about how signing promissory notes can get one in big trouble.

Ultimately, I just wanted to get to the end of this book. I am surprised it was his first commercial success, as I enjoyed the earlier ones better, but perhaps it fitted better into its time. Also, I read that Trollope was writing this at the same time as another, gloomier novel, that it was being published in instalments and that as they were to be of a set length some instalments suffered from padding, which led to some peculiarities. (I read the Penguin Classics version, which reprints the work as it originally appeared in the Cornhill Magazine.)
1 vote Oandthegang | Oct 23, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, AnthonyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carter, PipNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mullin, KatherineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Gorman, FrancisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steed, MaggieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a disposition.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140432132, Paperback)

Mark Robarts is a clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he agrees to guarantee a bill for a large sum of money for the disreputable local Member of Parliament, while being helped in his career in the Church by the same hand. But the unscrupulous politician reneges on his financial obligations, and Mark must face the consequences this debt may bring to his family. One of Trollope's most enduringly popular novels since it appeared in 1860, Framley Parsonage is an evocative depiction of country life in nineteenth-century England, told with great compassion and acute insight into human nature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:42 -0400)

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Clergyman Mark Robarts has fallen in with the unreliable Mr Sowerby, and through his dealings with Sowerby finds himself in severe financial difficulties.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432132, 0141199768

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