This sprawling novel follows two main plots and sets of characters. Previous readers of the Palliser novels find Plantagenet Palliser, now Duke of Omnium and a member of the House of Lords, inveigled into becoming prime minister of an unstable coalition government. Meanwhile his wife, the inimitable Glencora, decides to reinvent herself as a grand political hostess, to her husband's exasperation and ultimate misfortune.
The second plot strand follows the story of Ferdinand Lopez, one of Trollope's most memorable villains. When Lopez courts Emily Wharton, her barrister father initially forbids the marriage to a "greasy Portuguese, probably a Jew", and indulges in one of the memorably xenophobic outbursts in the annals of fiction. Emily accuses her father of prejudice and eventually wins the right to marry Lopez; yet despite his racism, her father turns out to have been right about Lopez's character and motives. Trollope is always a keen observer of human psychology, and in Lopez he presents an extraordinary portrait of a narcissistic personality, who over the course of the novel subjects his wife and her father to escalating psychological abuse, while piece by piece losing his own grip on reality. When Lopez decides to enter politics as a liberal candidate, and is encouraged by the meddling Glencora Palliser, the two plot lines converge in a scandal which threatens to bring down Palliser's government.
I adore Trollope, and the Palliser novels are among the jewels in his crown. The Prime Minister contains some thrilling moments, but is a little marred by the last section of the book. After Lopez's death, which is surely one of the highpoints of the novel, the widowed Emily struggles to re-establish herself. As always, Trollope is psychologically spot on when he describes the victim mentality she has developed as a result of her husband's psychological abuse; but listening to her droning on about how she deserved the way she was treated becomes terribly tedious when repeated in chapter after chapter. Lopez might have been a bad egg, but he made the plot go like a firecracker when he was onstage, and without him, the storyline can't but suffer the loss. The political sections are amongst the best in these novels, but again, the most exciting bits occur earlier, and the last section altogether feels as if, like the coalition government, it is running out of steam. For this reason, I am only giving four stars instead of five to the actual story, but it's still a great listen, and no one can read these books quite like the incredible Timothy West.
Trollope's fifth of the Palliser Novels surely must have served as inspiration for Downton Abbey. The truly noble sensibilities of the Prime Minister (The Duke of Omnium) and of his bright and charming, but not always appropriately sedate wife, Lady Glencora, remind the reader of the main characters in Downton Abbey.
Timothy West makes all the characters, the ones you love and the ones you hate, real. This is one of those books whose spirit permeates the way you feel about your day! It also leads you to take up activities that will allow you to keep listening!
Readers of The Prime Minister will want to go back to the first Palliser Novel, Can You Forgive Her?, and become acquainted with the engaging cast of characters who move in and out of the series.
About 4 hours and 30 minutes into Part 3, there is an eloquent statement by the Duke about why he has remained a liberal in Parliament.
Trollope improves the way I think, and the way I talk. He writes the best letters for his characters to send (though not especially in The Prime Minister).
It is a gripping story of politics and family
The plot is exciting
Timothy West is the most marvellous reader of Trollop
All of it
Keep using actors to read books, they are so much better at brining the stories alive
Your time could not be better spent with an audiobook than the time you would spend listening to Timothy West narrate The Prime Minister
As a Trollope fan, I write this review for others of you who consume these novels with as much relish as i do. With this novel, I have hit my limit; this is the most antisemitic novel I have encountered by any English novelist (including Trollope). Worse than THE WAY WE LIVE NOW in this respect; at least that novel has enough structural complexity to swallow up the Jew-hating sections to some extent.
He is a very good reader and my review has nothing to do with the performance; he does a nice job of handling the transitions between female and male voices (the biggest challenge for the audiobook voice actor)
The problem character is Ferdinand Lopez, who is variously described as a filthy black, a Jew despoiling the Egyptians, a greasy foreigner, a blackguard.
Whithout a doubt Timothy West is the BEST reader of Trollope on Audible. And this story, the next to last in the Palliser series, is one of the most affecting.
I have listened to over 250 audio books over 20 plus years. My taste is eclectic, but I do tend towards longer books, because I get more bang for my buck!
I have really enjoyed the Palliser series. This one is reasonably balanced between politics and characters, don't let the title fool you.
Of all the Palliser novels so far, I believe this one is the most dependent on the previous novels, although they are all independently enjoyable, each focusing on a different tangent line of characters.
But the great pleasure of this book is Timothy West. He a truly brilliant reader, and the perfect match for all Trollope.