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The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope

The Three Clerks (1858)

by Anthony Trollope

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I've got a long term Read All Trollope Project going (along with Read All Dickens, Eliot, Cather, Wharton, and James). This I mostly listened to, some very excellent reading on LIbriVox. This still felt like an early work, clumsy and preachy in places. There were numerous long digressions about Parliment and the Civil Service that mostly went over me. The use of satirical names; Mr. Chaffanbrass, Mr. Nogo, etc., felt rather forced. But the story was interesting and I enjoyed getting to know the rather flawed Three Clerks of the title. The sisters Woodward were less distinguishable except for the rather melodramatic Katie. I didn't expect her later story from her introduction as just a fun and hearty young teen but she blossomed into full teen angst later. In the end, I was glad that the good were happy and the villanous put down. Yes, Harry Norman turned out a bit of a prig and Alaric and Charlie too easily led into trouble but they were all enjoyable to read about. The buying and selling of shares and influence in Parliment reminded me of The Gilded Age, though perhaps not handled with as much of a satirical skewer as Twain gives it. On to find more Trollope.
  amyem58 | Jul 1, 2016 |
The story of three civil service clerks, Henry, Alaric and Charley and of the three daughters of Mrs Woodward, Gertrude, Linda and Katie. Alaric becomes a Civil Service Commissioner and plans to run for parliament, but his moral compass is being distorted by his despicable friend Undy. Alaric throws over one sister and marries another and finally receives his comeuppance. Charley is a young scoundrel who struggles to live up to his good intentions. Henry spends the entire novel being moral, unforgiving and extraordinarily boring.

It took me a while to get into this story, but it picks up from the halfway mark. I enjoyed the parts about Charley's literary endeavours and the topics and plot devices he is encouraged to include, although I could have done without the entire text of Crinoline and Macassar. I found Alaric an interesting character until his downfall, when he sort of faded out. Charley was the real hero to root for, although even his romance was a bit lacking somehow. I feared at one point that he would marry his bride on her deathbed, but thankfully that didn't happen. The women characters were not so prominent and well-developed as usual. No hunting on the plus side, but the minor characters weren't as developed as in other Trollope novels: Clementina was a bit unbelievable and I never warmed to the Neverbend sisters. Far far too many character with names like Neverbend and Oldeschole and so on.

Not one of my favourites. ( )
  pgchuis | Oct 21, 2015 |
M ( )
  Violette62 | Jan 26, 2013 |
Characteristic Trollope, though not of the first rank. The lower echelons of the early Victorian Civil Service live again; family life at Surbiton Cottage is explored with Trollope's typical sensitivity to feminine emotion; the Hon. Undecimus Scott is the kind of nuanced upper-class villain that Dickens could never give us. It will not convert the skeptic, but it will entertain the Trollope true believer.
1 vote booksaplenty1949 | Aug 11, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Handley, GrahamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shore, W. TeignmouthIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All the English world knows, or knows of, that branch of the Civil Service which is popularly called the Weights and Measures.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192818295, Paperback)

This is Trollipe's first important commentary on the contemporary scene. Set in the 1850s, it satirizes the recently instituted Civil Service examinations and financial corruption in dealings on the stock market. The story of the three clerks and the three sisters who became their wives shows Trollope probing and exposing relationships with natural sympathy and insight long before "The Barchester Chronicles" and his political novels.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Set in the 1850s, The Three Clerks exposes and probes the relationships between three clerks and the three sisters who became their wives. At the same time, it satirizes the Civil Service examinations and financial corruption in dealings on the stock market.… (more)

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