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Dr. Wortle's School by Anthony Trollope

Dr. Wortle's School (1881)

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3971141,890 (3.83)1 / 39
Mr Peacocke, a Classical scholar, has come to Broughtonshire with his beautiful American wife to live as a schoolmaster. But when the blackmailing brother of her first husband - a reprobate from Louisiana - appears at the school gates, a dreadful secret is revealed and the county is scandalized. Ostracised by the community, the pair seem trapped in a hopeless situation - until the combative but warm-hearted headmaster of the school, Dr Wortle, offers his support, and Mr Peacocke embarks upon a journey to America that he hopes will lay to rest the accusations once and for all. A perceptive exploration of Victorian morality, Dr Wortle's School (1881) also contains echoes of Trollope's own life, and his personal affection for the vivacious Bostonian Kate Field.… (more)



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Shorter by half than most Trollopes, but just as good. A look at how gossip can taint someone's respectable life, how a supportive friend can suffer because of his support and how people, once judgmental and condemnatory, will pretend it never bothered them when the situation is resolved. If we think that shaming someone or mocking someone by social media is new, it isn't; it's just faster now. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | Jul 2, 2019 |
This book very much felt like a book of its time, as opposed to Austen's work which, while very much couched in its era, is also universal. Trollope is great fun to read, funny, engaging, but ultimately, frivolous. All the fuss about a couple who married when they thought the woman's husband was dead when he really wasn't but is now...sigh. The stakes just weren't high enough for me to be rabidly interested in the outcome. And the add-on plot about Dr. Wortle's daughter and her earl-suitor felt clumsy. I did adore Dr. Wortle's emotional outbursts and his deeply felt sense of injustice. God knows how many letters exactly like the ones he writes in this book I've penned and never sent. Or worse, penned and sent. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
I'm afraid my enjoyment of this was somewhat marred by a poor audiobook but I did enjoy the story. Dr. Wrotle is an odd character but likelable, very concerned with his pride and position but still good at heart. The Peacockes are slightly less interesting, she is rather a damp rag when it finally comes down to it. The romance of Mary and Carstairs was raher an afterthought but amusing. More of the Trollope project completed
  amyem58 | Jul 19, 2016 |
Dr Wortle employs at his exclusive boys' prep school a Mr and Mrs Peacocke. Mr Peacocke met his American wife in St Louis and they do not socialize with the families around them. It transpires that the couple married after Mrs Peacocke's first husband died, but after 6 months said husband returned, very much still alive, only to disappear again after a day. Mr Peacocke refused to allow his wife to leave him and they came to England and have been living as husband and wife, but, of course, bigamously.

Dr Wortle, to the surprise even of his wife, refuses to condemn the couple, even though his school, relationship with his bishop and personal standing all suffer. The distinction between refusing to condemn and not even acknowledging that wrong has been done (because this is more or less the position Dr Wortle takes, claiming he would have done the same) is pointed out by a fellow clergyman, Mr Puddicombe. Mrs Wortle is very amusing in her complete inability to imagine herself ever being in Mrs Peacocke's position. This being Trollope, it is all resolved happily, but I am deducting half a star for the Mary Wortle/Lord Carstairs romance, which is underwritten and completely unnecessary. ( )
  pgchuis | Sep 27, 2015 |
To call anything written by Trollope "minor" is to commit a great sacrilege; however, Dr. Wortle's School, while written late in Trollope's life—and published the year preceding his death—is far from the range, breadth, and scope that one associates with Trollope's work.

Trollope is not a hit-or-miss writer: his misses are ones that would race triumphant around even the most laudable titles of authors in the same vein. But it appears that Trollope requires a much larger canvas in order to do what he does best: interlocking stories; multiple storylines; commentaries on class and gender; and so on.

While Dr. Wortle's School has Trollope's trademark theme of how embedded discourses of morality run counter to the ever-changing world in which he and his contemporaries lived, its laconic nature means that Trollope at times reverts to didacticism which in his longer works is beneath the surface: here, though, it is all the more apparent given the brevity of the text itself.

This is not to say that the novel isn't good: it's wonderful. But it's not one that anyone should read who is unfamiliar with Trollope's work ([b:The Claverings|469232|The Claverings|Anthony Trollope|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348961776s/469232.jpg|795351] is the best for that, in my opinion), and one also feels that this is ground that he has covered before (and in much more skillful a manner) in his more mature and well-known titles.

One of the best Victorian novelists—he truly was. His humanity and his compassion are especially felt in this particular book, a title recommended for Trollope fans who may desire less of a commitment as far as length goes but who still need their Trollope fix.

3.5/5 stars ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Halperin, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Rev. Jeffrey Wortle, DD, was a man much esteemed by others, - and by himself.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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