Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Can You Forgive Her?

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

 Happy 200th birthday, Mr. Trollope!  I've read two novels this month and very good they were too.  Can You Forgive Her? is the first in the Palliser series, which is six books long and has a lot of politics in it.  I'm not sure how interested I am in the politics, but I loved Can You Forgive Her? and so I'm planning to read the rest of them too.

Alice Vavasor is engaged to be married to a perfect paragon of a man, Mr. John Grey of Cambridgeshire.  He is honest, kind, calm, respectful, and intelligent.  Alice rather feels in fact that he might be a bit too perfect to live with, and she allows her cousins Kate and George Vavasor to fan those doubts until she doesn't know what she thinks, except that when older people try to tell her what to do, she rebels.  Alice thus gets herself into the worst of muddles, making me wish to take her away for at least six months to someplace--a full-time job in retail, perhaps--where she will be completely distracted and no one will talk to her about boys.  Alice needs some perspective!  The title question is whether you, the reader, can forgive Alice for being so completely muddled for so long.

However, this is a 700+-page novel, so there is plenty of room for other plots.  Lady Glencora, pressured into her marriage with Mr. Palliser, is unhappy in her new life and headed for trouble.  George wants to run for Parliament, and he's sure to get in for Chelsea, if only he can come up with the cash.  Kate spends some months in Norfolk with her aunt, Mrs. Greenow, a pretty, wealthy, and shrewd widow with two men hoping for her hand.

 I just love Trollope, and now I love this novel.  For quite a while there in the middle I could hardly put it down, it was so exciting.  Although long!  And the story takes a while to get started.  This is not the title to pick if you're looking to give Trollope a try; it's more for the established fan.  Somebody else said that it takes a good 150 pages to really get going and I found that to be true--and well worth it.

This novel is long and complex and takes place in several locations, including London, Barsetshire, Norfolk, and Switzerland, but the Vavasor seat in Westmoreland is an important spot, so I'm going to count it for Westmoreland.

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