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Barchester Towers | [Anthony Trollope]

Barchester Towers

Barchester Towers, Trollope's most popular novel, is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire. Trollope continues the story, begun in The Warden, of Mr Harding and his daughter Eleanor.
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Publisher's Summary

Barchester Towers, Trollope's most popular novel, is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire. Trollope continues the story, begun in The Warden, of Mr Harding and his daughter Eleanor.

©2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd

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  •  
    Janet Albany, CA, USA 12-30-08
    Janet Albany, CA, USA 12-30-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Read The Warden first"

    I would urge the reader to consider reading the first book in the Barchester series --The Warden--before reading this one. Although one could read Barchester Towers alone and enjoy it immensely, I think the relationships between the central characters are better enjoyed and savored more fully if one has read about them first in The Warden. (It's relatively short and very enjoyable.)

    Still BT is an enjoyable read all by itself and the wonderfully amusing wry asides by the author truly made me laugh out loud. If you yearn for a simpler time, or delight in the very best novels of English country life from Austen to Pym, or simply love an English sentence well-turned, you will enjoy this book. The reader is excellent.

    27 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicente Florence, CO, USA 09-11-09
    Vicente Florence, CO, USA 09-11-09
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    "Simply superb"

    The book itself, of course, is a perennial classic for its elegance and wit. Timothy West has comprehended the book magnificently and his reading of it is a triumph. Listening is sheer, unadulterated pleasure.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cebepe Woodland Hills, CA, United States 12-22-10
    cebepe Woodland Hills, CA, United States 12-22-10 Member Since 2004
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    "MARVELOUS VINTAGE WINE MARVELOUSLY POURED"

    What can one say about Anthony Trollope? He's one of the giants. My wife wouldn't be found dead reading him so it is clear that not everyone falls for him, but for those who love Trollope, Barchester Towers is one of the loveliest, though frankly there's nothing Trollopian I wouldn't read. With readings, the narrator is also critically important and here we have Timothy West, who in my opinion is as good as it gets. I think he is not entirely on the mark with Madeleine, but bear in mind this book has multiple characters. Timothy West does a terrific job differentiating them. He is better at men than at women - go figure - but he is overall so good that listening to this book was a pleasure from start to finish.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 07-07-10
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 07-07-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Great book: very well read"

    Listening to this book convinced me that Trollope is a fine writer, and I plan to listen to many more of his works. In all cases I'll choose the Timothy West version. This reader is excellent. I especially like the way he conveys character through the various voices he uses. His Mr. Slope and Bishop Proudie are especially good.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Maine 03-01-10
    Dave Maine 03-01-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Superb"

    This is a terrific book and the narrator (Timothy West) is amazing in bringing the book to life. I didn't want it to end.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Drazen Zagreb, Croatia 06-08-11
    Drazen Zagreb, Croatia 06-08-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Perfect"

    This is a perfect combination: a perfect book and a perfect reader. Mr. Timothy West has the perfect pace, opens all tiny details and lets you get completely immersed. I think I had a smile on my face while I listened to the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathaniel United States 02-12-11
    Nathaniel United States 02-12-11

    Collector

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    "The Warden/Barchester Towers"

    I listened to The Warden/Barchester Towers after listening to The Way We Live Now (my first Trollope venture) and for that reason, I believe, I was not as entranced with the first two Barsetshire novels as I was with my first. The books are similar, in that they deal with issues of the time and the affairs of the many characters found throughout the book, but upon starting the Barsetshire books I was lost from the beginning because of all the religious terminology. I had to do a bit of research on the subject before I continued so I would not be completely lost. The Warden should be listened to first to get the feel for some of the main characters of Barchester Towers. Like The Way We Live Now, Trollope develops great characters we can really care for and really dislike. Trollope’s characterization is what keeps me coming back for more. Regarding the story, it is entertaining and funny and sometimes slow and boring. Sometimes I had no idea what Trollope was going on about, but I always soon found myself back on track with the story and, having finished the story, feel that I didn’t miss that much when I was spacing out at the more tedious bits. Timothy West does an excellent job narrating and I must admit that his narration is another reason why I can’t quite give up on Trollope’s writing. After taking a little break, I attend on listening to Doctor Thorne and then, eventually, the rest of the series. All in all, this is pretty good story telling.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin new york, new york, United States 08-10-13
    Robin new york, new york, United States 08-10-13 Member Since 2010

    Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...

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    "tedious story, great narration"

    I'm sorry, but I do have to differ in my opinion of this book from most other listeners. I've read 3 Trollope books before this one ... each was charming, if at times slow. I found this book to be simply boring. The redeeming value of this listen lies in the excellent narration of Timothy West, and the author's impeccable writing style. Unless you have an interest in church politics I'd skip this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 11-13-12
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 11-13-12 Member Since 2011

    "fabric artist and quilter"

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    "A complete delight"

    Barchester Towers could have been written by Jane Austen's granddaughter! It is filled with janeisms but set some 50 years later. Trollope has the observations, the wit and the overall gentle and genteel comedy of manners and misunderstandings that made Jane Austen's books so loved.

    Even the characters are updated Austen characters, some with wonderful humorous names such as a father of 14 children being called Mr Quiverful and the social climbing farmers the Lookalofts. My personal favourate was Mr Slope who challenges Mr Collins from Pride and Prejudice as the most odious curate ever!

    I love the direct appeals Trollope makes to the reader - it brings you right into the action and Timothy West is absolutely perfect as the narrator. I believe, some narrators are born to read a particular author, Juliet Stevenson is perfect for Jane Austen as Timothy West is for Trollope. A match made in heaven!

    At the end of The Warden I wasn't sure about Trollope and not sure if the Barsetshire series had grabbed me. I can tell you now at the end of Barchester Towers that I am totally smitten with it - I have already downloaded the next in the chronicles and can't wait to start it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 02-13-14
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 02-13-14 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    ""I'll Slope him!" "I'll dean him!""

    War in Barchester. The army invading the quiet cathedral town is spearheaded by the low church, hen-pecked, gormless new Bishop Proudie, his evangelical, despotic wife ("the she-bishop," the "Medea of Barchester"), and their odious, duplicitous, ambitious, bad-beef complexioned and clammy-handed chaplain Mr. Slope, who, fancying himself the true new Bishop of Barchester, plans to promote Sabbath-day schools and to throw the music and ceremony of the Anglican service out with the rubbish. The outraged local defending forces are comprised of the modest, mild, weak, but stubborn ex-Warden of Hiram's Hospital Mr. Harding, his arrogant, righteous, and hot-tempered Archdeacon son-in-law Dr. Grantly, and the high church "champion," the thoughtful former Oxford professor of poetry and new vicar of St. Ewold, Mr. Arabin. Amid the warfare run rumors of courtship: Eleanor Bold, the younger daughter of Mr. Harding, with a beloved baby son and 1200 pounds per year, is a very eligible widow for suitors calculating, feckless, or inexperienced. Also mixed in the conflict is the Stanhope family, back in Barchester after a twelve-year sojourn in Italy, during which the father, a prebendary of the cathedral, was catching butterflies while supposedly caring for his sore throat. The Stanhope son Bertie is a lazy, good-natured, and unprejudiced parasite, his sister Madeline (AKA La Signora Neroni) is a crippled, beautiful, arachnoid man-catcher with eyes bright as Lucifer's and compelling as a basilisk's, and the first-born daughter Charlotte does her best to enable the predilections of her younger siblings.

    In his second Barchester Chronicles novel, Barchester Towers (1857), then, Anthony Trollope sets these colorful characters in play with and against each other in a largely unpredictable and wholly entertaining comedy of manners with much to say about mid-nineteenth-century gender, class, age, reform, religion, love, family, and novels, all in a way that is particularly Victorian British and universally human.

    Trollope's writing is witty, elegant, suspenseful, knowing, allusive, and quotable. I enjoy, for example, his epic similes using classical literature, Elizabethan drama, or the Bible, as when he hilariously compares Mrs. Proudie to Achilles or Mr. Slope to Lady Macbeth. Trollope's narrator and characters say pithy things like:

    "If honest men did not squabble for money in this wicked world of ours, the wicked men would get it all."

    "A man must be an idiot or else an angel, who, after the age of forty shall attempt to be just to his neighbours."

    "Gentlemen do not write to women about their tresses, unless they are on intimate terms."

    "There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel."

    And Trollope relishes sympathetically mocking his characters, as when with heroic formality he encourages the Bishop to stand up to his wife:

    "Now, bishop, look well to thyself, and call up all the manhood that is in thee. Think how much is at stake. If now thou art not true to thy guns, no Slope can hereafter aid thee. How can he who deserts his own colours at the final smell of gunpowder expect faith in any ally. Thou thyself hast sought the battlefield; fight out the battle manfully now thou art there. Courage, bishop, courage! Frowns cannot kill, nor can sharp words break any bones. After all the apron is thine own. She can appoint no wardens, give away no benefices, nominate no chaplains, an' thou art but true to thyself. Up, man, and at her with a constant heart."

    The novel is not without a disappointment or two. Eleanor's sister-in-law Mary Bold has devolved from an intelligent and independent woman who writes reform-minded newspaper pieces in The Warden (1855), the first novel in his Chronicles, to a bland live-in nanny in Barchester Towers. And some things, naturally enough, feel dated, like the ideas that the ideal condition of wife and husband is for the woman to be a beautiful parasitic plant like ivy decorating a wall (the man) and that independence is a "heavy burden" for women.

    But mostly I listened to Barchester Towers chuckling, grinning, and generally reveling in Trollope's characters, story, and prose and in Timothy West's virtuoso reading of them. As Juliet Stevenson was born to read Virgina Woolf, West was born to read Anthony Trollope. He's perfect with people young and old, high and low, male and female, and unlike Simon Vance reading The Warden, West's Eleanor has no irritating falsetto. His Mr. Slope (nasally unctuous), Mr. Harding (mild, good, and weak) and Signora Neroni (provocative ersatz Italian charm) are all wonderful.

    Charles Dickens had crowded Trollope out of my life until I read The Warden, the first novel in his Chronicles, and was so delighted by it. Both authors write colorful and comical characters we care about, but while Dickens leans towards caricature, Trollope leans towards realism. Dickens' characters are often wholly good or wholly evil, while Trollope's are often very mixed indeed. (Compare Dickens' villain Uriah Heep with Trollope's Obadiah Slope.). Trollope feels less sentimental and melodramatic than Dickens, but after all they both wrote entertaining and page-turning, socially-conscious, humorous, and dramatic novels. I warmly urge fans of 19th century novels, especially readers familiar with Dickens but unfamiliar with Trollope, to read Barchester Towers. (Though both The Warden and Barchester Towers tell self-contained stories, reading the first book first would increase one's pleasure in the sequel.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Francis
    Liverpool, United Kingdom
    10/28/08
    Overall
    "West is best"

    Barchester Towers is perhaps the most enjoyable novel of an author whom it is almost always a delight to read. Perhaps the novel does not scale the heights and social criticism is mild and muted in comparison with other Victorian novelists.But there are few readers who will not enjoy the portrayal of the Archdeacon, Mrs Proudie ,the egregious Mr Slope and many other characters.
    When in addition the novel is superbly read by Timothy West, this becomes an outstanding audio book. He judges the varied tone of the narration to perfection and differentiates and portrays the various characters so well that listening one forgets that there is just one single reader. I'm sure that I will not be alone in finding that listening to these novels read by Timothy West is more rewarding and enjoyable than reading the book for oneself. Strongly recommended as are all of Timothy West's readings of Trollope.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    Richmond, United Kingdom
    6/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb reading makes story come alive"

    I have always enjoyed reading Trollope but of course he is not as dramatic - or melodramatic - as Dickens. This reading brings out the light and shade in his writing. With the subtlest of accents or voices Timothy West breathes fascination into the whole book. Perhaps one of the features that make some readers find Trollope dull is that the commentary by the narrator is so understated. Giving each character his or her own distinctive voice keeps the attention of the listener. It's a virtuoso performance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Heather
    Newcastle, United Kingdom
    1/10/11
    Overall
    "Pure pleasure"

    This recording of Barchester Towers is an absolute joy to listen to. Timothy West gives each character their unique 'voice' and it is easy to picture them in conversation together.
    My favourite is Rev. Slope who sounds as slimy and ingratiating as Trollope writes him.
    I usually listen to my Audible books before going to sleep and I had several rather late nights while listening to this as I didn't want to stop!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • John
    brightonUnited Kingdom
    6/29/10
    Overall
    "Tim's Trollope Triumph"

    It's fashionable, especially among politicians to cite Trollope as a favourite writer over the likes of the more obvious Dickens. In reality, he is not in the same class but he is certainly worthy of his place amongst the greats. This is a beatifully read rendition by the great Timothy West (why not Sir Timothy by now?)which brings out all the wonderful humour of the novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lynne
    New Quay, United Kingdom
    4/1/09
    Overall
    "A perfect audiobook"

    This is everything an audiobook should be: Trollope's easiest to go along with novel sublimely well read. The baby talk section always makes me laugh. Don't bother with any other Barchester Chronicles readings!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Holmfirth, United Kingdom
    12/23/10
    Overall
    "A delightful book beautifully read"

    This is the second book of the barchester chronicles series. All the books in the series are a delight, and Timothy West reads them beautifully.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Francis
    Liverpool, United Kingdom
    10/28/08
    Overall
    "West is best"

    Barchester Towers is perhaps the most enjoyable novel of an author whom it is almost always a delight to read. Perhaps the novel does not scale the heights and social criticism is mild and muted in comparison with other Victorian novelists.But there are few readers who will not enjoy the portrayal of the Archdeacon, Mrs Proudie ,the egregious Mr Slope and many other characters.
    When in addition the novel is superbly read by Timothy West, this becomes an outstanding audio book. He judges the varied tone of the narration to perfection and differentiates and portrays the various characters so well that listening one forgets that there is just one single reader. I'm sure that I will not be alone in finding that listening to these novels read by Timothy West is more rewarding and enjoyable than reading the book for oneself. Strongly recommended as are all of Timothy West's readings of Trollope.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Clare
    AberdeenUnited Kingdom
    4/7/09
    Overall
    "What a joy!"

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The reader's characterisations are brilliant, from the Bishop with his thin, weedy voice, to the conniving Mr Slope. I had forgotten what a great book this was, it is so much more entertaining than its predecessor, The Warden. The dry wit of Trollope and the social observation are glorious, he is recognisably the same author as that of The Warden, but he seems to have gained considerable confidence and really enjoys exploring the possibilities that various combinations of characters and situations provide him with. The novel is peopled with such wonderful characters, and so much incident that I defy anyone not to be entertained. And if you can get through this book without laughing out loud then I'll eat my hat!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • stratigou
    9/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful"
    What made the experience of listening to Barchester Towers the most enjoyable?

    I've always loved this book in all it's many forms, so now I can listen to it at night when sleep evades me! Thank you Amazon.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Love them all!


    What does Timothy West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Wonderful reading voice.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both


    Any additional comments?

    Try it if you like classics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    Newbury, United Kingdom
    2/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful"
    Any additional comments?

    If you've just discovered Timothy West's readings of Trollope, then you have such a treat in store. Start with the Barchester Chronicles, then go through the Parliamentary novels (Palliser) in sequence. West is simply revelatory, his voices for each character remain true through hundreds of hours of narration. I have now finished them all and feel like I need to go into mourning. This was one of my favourites, though personally I prefer the Pallisers as a collection. As other reviewers have said, this novel is full of gentle joy and peopled with beautiful characterisation. Exquisite escapism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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