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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
1,504477,169 (4.1)6 / 321
  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 47 (next | show all)
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 |
Tedious. ( )
  ramrak | Jan 1, 2018 |
Noting to myself that I read this, but as https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30466452-doctor-thorne
Read from August 20 to September 19, 2016, but not adding dates on this because I don't want to bork up my GR challenges count. ( )
  Daumari | Dec 30, 2017 |
I wonder whether any other readers have had the experience of watching Julian Fellowes's "adaptation" of 'Doctor Thorne' after reading the novel.

I was incredulous at the travesty Julian Fellowes made of what he said was one of his favorite novels. From beginning to end Fellowes's adaptation changes the plot, contrives scenes and dialogue that are not in the novel, alters characters, and turns the whole tale into a sort of burlesque that is very far indeed from the spirit of Trollope's novel. I also read half a dozen reviews of Fellowes's production. The New York Times review was worthless. Only one review noted that Fellowes made changes (but since the review was only of episode one and the alterations became more thoroughgoing as the story progressed, The Telegraph (I think it was) didn't comment on the extent of the changes. I don't think any of the people writing the reviews had read the novel. I'm very disappointed in Julian Fellowes, who claimed to admire Trollope. He makes several misstatements in his introductions, as when he says Trollope's description of Sir Louis Philippe Scatherd's death is extremely moving, while in the novel the character's death is not described directly.

As for this 1997 edition of the novel, James Kincaid's introduction is disappointing.

Kincaid is, or was, the Aerol Arnold Professor at the University of Southern California and author of The Novels of Anthony Trollope (1977), Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture (1992), and Annoying the Victorians (1995).

Kincaid's introduction is dominated by the notion that there are dark “energies" that are "at work” in the novel (xix). Kincaid likes Sir Richard Scatcherd, “a fully sympathetic character of great power and ability, drawn against his will into a world that uses him ruthlessly and then leaves him with no prospect but death” (xix). "Fully sympathetic," a character who browbeats his wife? As for the happy ending, it “is a happiness rooted in sacrifice and darkness, originating in a rape and ending in an ambivalently tragic suicide, the blood sacrifice of the railroad king so that true ‘blood’ may be preserved” (xx). In fact, there was a seduction, not a “rape” (ch. 2).

Kincaid would have us believe that Trollope’s novel is “subversive” (xx). “Louis Philippe forces the Greshams and even Doctor Thorne to recognise what they are doing and what readers must do to reach the land of comic fulfillment” (xx). This is a considerable exaggeration.

At the beginning of the novel, Kincaid says, “placid, gracious, rural England” seems doomed to give way to “the tidal wave of new invention, new money, new power sweeping over the country like its major symbol, the railroad” (xx). In fact railroads are not much mentioned, and are only one source, and not even necessarily the main part, of the source of the fortune of Roger Scatcherd, who is mentioned building “a harbor” before railways are mentioned, and has even been chosen to build the Panama Canal.

Doctor Thorne and Mary manage “to preserve, at least for now, the old values and the old forms” (xxi). In fact, in Trollope's novel such a victory is made to seem the inevitable outcome produced by the inferior values of the upstarts. If for Kincaid, the novel shows with “almost brutal honesty . . . the cost of winning what finally is a class war” (xxi), this also is willfully and luridly overdrawn — readers certainly do not come to Trollope because of his brutal portrayals of class war! “[T]he reader is asked to regard as a hero the very figure whose steadfast ethical and social principles rest on quicksand” (xxi). Again, this is not at all Trollope’s view or the view that the novel is organized around; it is, rather, the opinion of Prof. Kincaid.

Kincaid continues for the rest of the introduction, hammering round pegs into square holes with alacrity. The character of Miss Dunstable doesn’t fit his interpretation, but the American professor brushes this off as “just one example of Trollope’s sly and disruptive way of playing with the reader’s conventional expectations” (xxii).

Kincaid has nothing at all to say about the bizarre social position of Doctor Thorne, except to say (inaccurately) that he is “outside of class” (xxiii) -- it is really of Mary that this might possibly be said. Mary’s situation, oddly enough, seems not to interest Kincaid at all.

Kincaid’s conclusion, in its desperation to make the novel attuned to contemporary sensibilities, is also utterly anti-Trollopean. If Kincaid were to be believed, Doctor Thorne “makes us wonder if [the nostalgic pastoral idyll that was England] is worth the trip. In order to get there it is necessary to play very rough, strew some corpses around. Trollope lets us know that this feudal England will not be along for long and maybe was not worth recalling in the first place” (xxiv). It offers us “the illusion, and that is all it may be, that something in this world can come to good” (xxiv).

What an undesirable introduction for this novel! Is there a single reader who is led to read the novel sympathetically and with more pleasure and insight as a result? I doubt it. The tendentiousness of Kincaid’s introduction is underscored by the fact that none of the themes he divines is mentioned in the various reviews and appreciations that are reviewed in the interesting supplement at the end of the volume, “Anthony Trollope and His Critics,” which focuses on the reception of the novel.

I should note, however, that Hugh Osborne's notes to this edition are excellent and are a sufficient reason to buy the Penguin edition. It's too bad, though, that there are so many misprints in the edition: "fortume" for "fortune" (xx), "neice" for "niece" (xxi), "of" for "or" (376), "lest" for "let" (379), "stool" for "stood" (382), to mention only a few. ( )
  jensenmk82 | Dec 10, 2017 |
An excellent book that shows how patience in love can be rewarded. Frank Gresham is the son and heir of a landowner who's heavily mortgaged his property to cover his debts. Mary Thorne is the illegitimate niece of a local doctor. Together, they fall in love and become engaged. Frank's mother, Lady Arabella, tries to move heaven and earth to get her son to marry money and save the family. The saga takes years. That can be the annoying part of the story. Such back and forth, yes I'll marry her, no I won't. But if you push through, the ending is rewarding. ( )
  briandrewz | Dec 22, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

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)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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

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