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Mr Scarboroughs Family by Anthony Trollop

Mr Scarboroughs Family (original 1883; edition 1998)

by Anthony Trollop

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208280,324 (4.07)9
Title:Mr Scarboroughs Family
Authors:Anthony Trollop
Info:FOLIO SOCIETY (1998), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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Mr. Scarborough's Family by Anthony Trollope (1883)



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Mr Scarborough is dying and his eldest son (Mountjoy) has, through gambling, amassed debts which will swallow up the entire estate on his father's death. Mr Scarborough suddenly announces that Mountjoy is in fact illegitimate and it is only his second son (Augustus) who was born in wedlock. The paperwork supporting the money loaned to Mountjoy is therefore worthless (since the debts were to fall due when he inherited) and the debts unenforceable. Naturally the moneylenders are not very happy about this.

Mountjoy expects to marry his cousin, Florence, but she is in love with Harry. Mountjoy drunkenly attacks Harry and then disappears. Florence's mother takes her to Brussels to get her out of Harry's way. Augustus schemes to harm Harry because he too wishes to marry Florence. Mr Scarborough has more tricks up his sleeve.

I enjoyed this novel very much, although Dorothy Grey and the Carroll family were perhaps a sub-plot too far. I was sad that Dorothy refused Mr Barry and I'm not sure what purpose this failed romance served: Mr Barry seemed perfectly gentlemanly and moral to me. Mr Prosper's attempts to get out of his engagement to Miss Throughbung were extremely entertaining, including his constant harping on whether Miss Puffle would have been a better bet.

My only real quibbles were the apparent instant fascination posed by Florence for every young man she came across and also the unlikely forethought of Mr Scarborough in laying the foundations for his schemes so many decades ahead, when the necessity for them was surely unforeseeable. Trollope does acknowledge both these points and goes merrily on. ( )
  pgchuis | Nov 15, 2015 |
Of all the Trollope I've read so far, MSF is the most ingenious. It also has a curiously modern feel in its unflinching look at how unabashedly ugly people can get over money - even more appalling than his " The Way We Live Now." There, Melmotte was a crook and knew it. Here, Scarborough pere is a liar, cheat and abusive parent yet considers himself a stellar gentleman. With the legal wrangling over an estate as the center of interest, it's not just another Victorian romance (although that vein provides several sub-plots), yet you can't quite predict where it's going, and the main characters are, for the most part, unapologetic scoundrels or at least somewhat ethically challenged (that goes for Mrs. Mountjoy). The minor characters are greatly entertaining (Sir Magnus with his compulsory daily rides, Lady Mountjoy and her waddle, the infighting Brussels legation staff, Dolly Gray and her grim devotion to duty, the odious Carroll sisters). The chapter devoted to Mr. Prosper's wife-hunting was hilarious - my guffaws disturbed the cat, who has no sense of humor. Nobody handles scenes of marriage proposals quite as well as AT, and we get a good variety of them herein.

I was engrossed right to the end. Like many of the characters, I was wondering what other tricks the squire of Tretton had up his sleeve (he did have another big shocker about 1/4 from the finish line, for which his hapless attorney Grey will never forgive him, as the chapter title "Mr. Grey's Remorse" hints.) The periodic plot recaps, necessary for a novel that first appeared as a magazine serial (AT didn't live to see the final numbers published), were a minor nuisance. And like Mr. Grey, I did end up with a begrudging liking for Mountjoy, despite all the misery he brought on himself.

Be warned of the overt anti-Semitism of the era herein: the "Jew moneylenders" are not treated kindly. There is, however, a plug for the contemporary American girls who "carry latchkeys" and meet their young men at will, yet are no less virtuous than are their fair English cousins. Perhaps AT was thinking of his American friend, Kate Field? In any case, a generous nod across the pond. Altogether A-list Trollope. ( )
1 vote stringcat3 | Nov 9, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pope-Hennessy, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192818082, Paperback)

The son of a barrister, Trollope was fascinated by the workings of the legal system. This novel, his last major work, is dominated by the figure of John Scarborough, a wealthy squire who contrives from his deathbed to defeat the law of entail. Seeking to bequeath his estate to the worthier of his two sons, he subjects them to a testing examination and, in the process, baffles his lawyers and scandalizes society. The social world also comes under scrutiny as Trollope explores the codes of conduct governing courtship and marriage, money-lending, gambling and other subjects as he records the conflict between law and justice, and the passing of traditional values. The text is that of the first edition of 1883 and includes a number of textual emendations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

On his deathbed, Mr Scarborough hands his lawyer papers showing did not marry his wife until after the birth of his son Mountjoy. This means Mountjoy - a compulsive gambler who is already in debt - is illegitimate and will not inherit his fortune. Instead, Mr Scarborough's second son, a barrister, becomes heir. But it is far from a happy ending as the barrister is a manipulative and evil man, plotting to push his father into an early grave.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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