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Margaret Hilton imparts restraint and understatement to her performance of Anthony Trollope’s 1857 novel, Barchester Towers.
The second installment in Trollope’s "Chronicles of Barsetshire series, this novel takes place in the city of Barchester, where the beloved bishop has died. Bishop Proudie takes his position, accompanied by his intrusive wife, Mrs. Proudie. Meanwhile, the bishop’s unlikeable chaplain, Mr. Slope, has ordered clergyman Dr. Stanhope back from Italy. He is accompanied by his scandalous daughter, Madeline. These characters and others add to this satirical story about religious hypocrisy.
Hilton’s unabridged performance carries the subtly ironic edge that characterizes Trollope’s prose.
First, a warning: If you haven’t read any Trollope, start with The Warden; it’s the first in a series of which Barchester is second. Next, a rather shocking warning: Trollope may be as addictive as a soap opera. It has plenty of the right ingredients—archly drawn characters and plots that enmesh the listener in the daily ups and downs of those characters’ lives. Of course, the great crevasse that divides your average daytime soap from Barchester Towers is the elegance and skill of the writer and the witty invention from which he draws his charming and classic fantasies.
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"Till we can become divine we must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for change we sink to something lower."
- Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope
This was lovely. Barchester Towers in probably Trollope's best known and most popular work. It could stand alone, but really should be read after Warden as book 2 in the Barsetshire Series (six books). Trollope's prose is beautiful but his characters (good and bad; pretty and plain) are sketched with such nuance and understanding that two books in I feel like many of them are family.
This year, I committed to reading the six novels in the Chronicles of Barsetshire and the six novels that compose his Palliser series. After finishing book two, however, I'm about read to commit to reading all 47 of his novels PLUS his autobiography. I surprised my wife by joining The Trollope Society last night (£36) and feel it is inevitable that one of these days I'm going to have to explain to my lovely wife, my partner, my soul why 47 books just came here from London (you can order a very nice set of Trollope's complete novels for £950 + £50 for shipping to the US). It really does seem almost as inevitable as entropy. Unstoppable really. It might not be this week, this month, or this year, but it just seems easier to bite it in one chunk than collect these novels higgledy-piggledy.
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