Mary's Library

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy birthday, dear Tony . . .

Today is Anthony Trollope’s birthday. He was born in 1815 and died in 1882. My on-line Trollope group is a little giddy from celebrating, with virtual cake being passed around and much singing of “Happy birthday, dear Tony.”

If you have never read Trollope you have a treat in store. He is a fine writer who has carefully captured in his novels the world of 19th century England and the people living there. They are a lot like the people living now. I frequently run into his characters. I knew a woman in Virginia who was Mrs Proudie to the life.

Where to begin if you haven’t read Trollope before? I recommend Phineas Finn (published serially from Oct 1867 to May 1869.) Phineas is a young Irishman who has arrived in London to study law. But his aim is to get into Parliament, and he meets political figures who encourage him to try. His best friend in the political world is Lady Laura Standish, who is related to half the Whigs in Parliament.

The novel is the story of Phineas’ struggle to make a place for himself in politics and to find a suitable wife to help him do so. It’s one of Trollope’s best books. I’ve read it repeatedly over the years and I always come away new ideas and new understanding. It’s one of my 10 favorite books. Possibly one of my 5 favorites.

If you love Jane Austen, you will love Trollope. (If you don’t love Jane Austen, why would you be reading this blog?)


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