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The Small House at Allington by Anthony…
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The Small House at Allington (1864)

by Anthony Trollope (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Chronicles of Barsetshire (5)

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
The summary of this novel, which I read first, gave away a surprising amount of the story. In all honesty I think Trollope’s novels are less about the plot than they are about the social interaction and moral development of the characters, so it didn’t really bother me.

"Engaged to the ambitious and self-serving Adolphus Crosbie, Lily Dale is devastated when he jilts her for the aristocratic Lady Alexandrina. Although crushed by his faithlessness, Lily still believes she is bound to her unworthy former fiancé for life and therefore condemned to remain single after his betrayal. And when a more deserving suitor pays his addresses, she is unable to see past her feelings for Crosbie.”

The Dale women, Lily and her sister Bell and their mother, were wonderful. At their core all they want is for the others to find true happiness. They are fiercely protective of each other and their wishes. Some of my favorite scenes in the book are when they stand up for the decisions someone in their family has made, without asking any questions of each other. Lily talks to the local doctor, James Crofts, in an effort to secure happiness for her sister. Their mother talks to the girls’ uncle about a potential match but refuses to force or encourage her daughter to make the match against her will. They are strong women who refuse to betray each other for a shot at money or luxury.

I keep finding shades of Austen in all of the Trollope I read. Both authors share similar themes and styles, though Austen's work has a bit more bite. This one reminded me so much of Sense and Sensibility. Bell is like Eleanor, steady and logical. Lily is brasher and reminded me so much of Marianne. She falls in love with an unworthy man, turning down someone who would truly be a great match. Unfortunately for Lily, unlike Marianne she never quite recovers from that love.

The girls’ mother is an interesting character as well. She struggles with whether she's done right by her children, even though they love her dearly. She worries that they are possibly giving up opportunities out of a loyalty to her. It's the endless struggle of any parents, constantly asking yourself if you’re making the best choices for your kids.

The male characters in this novel are a mixed bag. Eames is a worthy man, I found myself rooting for him. The girls’ uncle is harsh and struggles to connect with them. He does love them, but that feeling is wrapped deep within his other layers of formality and stiffness. He has such a hard time conveying his feelings and his actions often come across as obligation instead of love. Crosbie is just a jerk, to put it nicely. I wanted to smack him and he deserved his fate.

Side note: We also get to see Griselda again and it’s a bit tragic to see what her life has become.

One of the books best lines comes from Lily’s mother’s reaction when her daughter is jilted by Crosbie:

“Mrs. Dale had felt in her heart that it would be well if Crosbie could be beaten until all his bones were sore.”

My only real complaint about this one was that I wanted something better for Lily. I wanted her to find love. I wanted her to realize that she deserved someone better than Crosbie. I wanted a happy ending for her because it seemed like the novel was begging for one! It’s definitely not that I think everyone needs to be married to be happy, but it felt like she gave up on pursuing any happiness in some misplaced sense of loyalty for a man that didn’t deserve her.

BOTTOM LINE: Another delightful read. It’s not my favorite of the series, but I once again enjoyed being lost in Trollope’s world of Barsetshire. ( )
  bookworm12 | Aug 11, 2014 |
Yet another in the long line of novels where I prefer the down to earth, solid, dependable woman to the charming, flirty, romantic woman; if Trollope's autobiography is to be believed, he agrees with me: Bell, not Lily! C'mon people! Bell's the one who recognizes that "everything that is, is wrong." Adorno in a Victorian novel? She might be my dream girl.
Otherwise, this is the second best of the Barchester novels so far. If it hadn't been written as the generic multi-volume monster, it might even have been the best: there's no cheery, happy ending but there's still plenty of Trollope's usual wit. The plot is very well done, and more interesting than Dr Thorne's- here you get all the lurv stuff, but also plenty of politics and property. The characters/caricatures are all pretty convincing. Also, I over-identified with Johnny Eames. I, too, went through a long period of hobbledehoyhood. Perhaps it continues. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Whew. I love Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire, but this, the 5th in the series, was a long one. The Penguin Classics print edition is 752 pages, so I am happy I have this series on my Kindle. But anyway, about the book ... I enjoy being immersed in Trollope's scenes of 19th Century England, and especially village life and the relationship (or lack thereof) between the classes. Every reading session was a nice escape from my day-to-day cares. And yet, I enjoyed this book less than others in the series. There are several leading male and female characters, but I didn't feel I got to know any of them well enough to become emotionally invested in their stories. The story revolves around sisters Lily and Isabel (Bell) Dale, who are courted by various men. These men range from desirable to loathsome, and Lily is treated poorly by one of them. There is an amusing scene in which the rake gets his comeuppance, but I was annoyed with Lily for the rest of the novel. There are subplots involving Lily and Bell's mother, and various gentry, that kept things interesting. So all in all, a good read but not my favorite. ( )
  lauralkeet | Sep 21, 2013 |
I've always thought there are worse things than being single, and Trollope seems to agree with this in The Small House at Allington. The book is full of love triangles and quadrangles, widows, spinsters, and confirmed bachelors. Happily married couples are hardly to be found. Some characters will only marry for love, while others seek social status or security through marriage. The characters' incompatible views of marriage make it appear almost certain that no one will get what he or she wants in a mate.

Most of the characters are flawed, and while this makes them seem more human, it also makes it hard to find one to really root for. It's clear from Crosbie's behavior that Lily Dale is much too good for him, but do readers really want her to settle for John Eames instead? Not this one.

Of the first five Barsetshire novels, this one seems to be the most domestic. The main object for most of the characters is securing domestic comfort, whether through marriage or simply through a change in residence. While church politics has had a prominent role in earlier Barsetshire novels, it is largely absent from this one. Differences of birth and class aren't a primary source of conflict, either. Most of the conflict revolves around money and the cost of happiness. Maybe the absence of larger concerns is why I liked this one less than the other Barsetshire novels I've read. It's still full of Trollope's insight into human character, and I wouldn't have wanted to miss passages like this:

We constantly talk of the thoughtlessness of youth. I do not know whether we might not more appropriately speak of its thoughtfulness. It is, however, no doubt, true that the thought will not at once produce wisdom. It may almost be a question whether such wisdom as many of us have in our mature years has not come from the dying out of the power of temptation, rather than as the results of thought and resolution. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Aug 29, 2013 |
I love these little journeys with Anthony Trollope into a past way of life. It is hard to believe that people could have been so petty while being so pretentious. In Book No. 5 of the Barsetshire Chronicles, love, money, and marriage are examined carefully through the actions of two love triangles involving the lovely young daughters of the Widow Dale, Bell and Lily. Money and ancestry are all-important in the marriage game of the Victorian era; unfortunately, the Dale sisters had no money. Thanks to their uncle, the Squire of Allington, they had a comfortable place to live at the estate in the Small House. However, his generosity did not extend to providing a dowry for Lily when she was to be wed to the debonair Adolphus Crosbie, one of the most despicable characters I've come across in my reading.

This book is not as predictable as some of the others in the series. Very little was said about the politics of the day and one had to look long and hard to find characters to admire, especially amongst the principals. Trollope's usual insight and wit help make up for some of the unsympathetic characters and their incomprehensible actions. I'm talking about you, Adolphus Crosbie, and your callousness, and also you, Lily Dale, with your attempt at martyrdom. I was even a little perturbed at John-Boy Eames and his prolonged hobbledeboyhood. I thought his treatment of Amelia was much like the way Crosbie treated Lily yet no one scorned him for it.

Much of the book was set in the country. I loved those idyllic scenes of playing croquet under moonlight and taking meandering walks through the countryside. The contrast against the hustle and bustle in London was a brilliant way to describe the changes taking place in England at this time. There were also some memorable incidents at John Eames' boarding house in London and a hilarious rescue by him of a country Earl that involved a bull and a red handkerchief in the Earl's pocket. There is much in this book to like as there was in its predecessors. This is an absolutely delightful series, and I'm sad that it is drawing to a close. ( )
3 vote Donna828 | Aug 24, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, AnthonyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kincaid, James R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millais, John EverettIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reddick, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, JulianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tillotson, KathleenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trollope, JoannaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Of course there was a Great House at Allington.
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The door of the big room was opened, and Mr Kissing shuffled in with very quick little steps. He shuffled in and coming direct up to John’s desk, flopped his ledger down upon it. . .. ‘I have been half the morning, Mr Eames, looking for this letter to the Admiralty, and you’ve put it under S!’ A bystander listening to Mr Kissing’s tone would have been led to believe that the whole Income-tax Office was jeopardised by the terrible iniquity thus disclosed.
‘Somerset House,’ pleaded Johnny.
‘Psha; —Somerset House! Half the offices in London—’
‘You’d better ask Mr Love,’ said Eames. ‘It’s all done under his special instructions.’ Mr Kissing looked at Mr Love, and Mr Love looked steadfastly at his desk. ‘Mr Love knows all about the indexing,’ continued Johnny. ‘He’s index master general to the department.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140433252, Paperback)

Engaged to the ambitious and self-serving Adolphus Crosbie, Lily Dale is devastated when he jilts her for the aristocratic Lady Alexandrina. Although crushed by his faithlessness, Lily still believes she is bound to her unworthy former fiance for life and therefore condemned to remain single after his betrayal. And when a more deserving suitor pays his addresses, she is unable to see past her feelings for Crosbie. Written when Trollope was at the height of his popularity, The Small House at Allington (1864) contains his most admired heroine in Lily Dale a young woman of independent spirit who nonetheless longs to be loved and is a moving dramatization of the ways in which personal dilemmas are affected by social pressures.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:19 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Lily is the niece of Squire Dale, an embittered old bachelor entrenched in the "great house" at Allington. His sister-in-law lives at the adjacent "small house" with her two daughters Lily and Bell, and the story centres on the relations between the two houses.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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