Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope

I  can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr. George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge. 

With an opening that contains dialogue we are usually forced to keep reading in order to understand what is happening. With this line there is a hint of trouble, but no way to surmise what that conflict might be. It could be about anything from a lost puppy to a cross-dressing priest. Though, the later is somewhat unlikely considering it's Trollope.

So let's read on and see if there is a hook in the rest of the first paragraph.

Walker and Winthrop was the name of the firm, and they were respectable people, who did all the solicitors' business that had to be done in that part of Barsetshire on behalf of the Crown, were employed on the local business of the Duke of Omnium who is great in those parts, and altogether held their heads up high, as provincial lawyers often do. They,—the Walkers,—lived in a great brick house in the middle of the town, gave dinners, to which the county gentlemen not unfrequently condescended to come, and in a mild way led the fashion in Silverbridge. "I can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Miss Walker.

Nope, no hook there, just back story. Then:

"You'll have to bring yourself to believe it," said John, without taking his eyes from his book.

"A clergyman,—and such a clergyman too!"

Suddenly the cross-dressing priest is looking more and more like an option until we learn that this clergyman is in debt. Oh, the tension!

This is part of the series: the top 100 novels from Daniel S. Burt's book called Novel 100, the top 100 novels of all time. There is debate of course as to what should be on that list, but his opinions are as good as any. The Last Chronicle of Barset comes in as the 75th best novel of all time.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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