Can You Forgive Her? is the first of the six Palliser novels. Here Trollope examines parliamentary election and marriage, politics and privacy. As he dissects the Victorian upper class, issues and people shed their pretenses under his patient, ironic probe.
Alice Vavasor cannot decide whether to marry her ambitious but violent cousin George or the upright and gentlemanly John Grey—and so finds herself accepting and rejecting each of them in turn. She is increasingly confused about her own feelings and unable to forgive herself for such vacillation—a situation contrasted with that of her friend Lady Glencora, forced by “sagacious heads” to marry the rising politician Plantagenet Palliser in order to prevent her true love, the worthless Burgo Fitzgerald, from wasting her vast fortune. In asking his readers to pardon Alice for her transgression of the Victorian moral code, Trollope created a telling and wide-ranging account of the social world of his day.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Praise for Barchester Towers: “Obviously, [Vance] relishes impersonating the dramatis personae." (AudioFile)
This is a long, long book, and the first in a series, though I understand that they mostly stand alone so you don't really have to read them in order. It centers around three women: one married, one single, and one widowed, and for each of them, the central question is the same - do I go with Mr. Dull and Dependable or do I go with Mr. Good Looks Who Will Spend All My Money and Ruin Me?
It might have been a more exciting book if Trollope was a more radical author, but I'm not spoiling too much to say that Trollope was actually a very conservative author. Everyone ultimately Does the Right Thing in a very Victorian way, but not before flirting with impropriety enough to raise the question asked by the title: Can You Forgive Her?
Besides jilted suitors and gentleman wastrels, there is a bit of Parliamentary politics in this book which I believe assumes greater importance in the future volumes.
Anthony Trollope had the gift of narrative and character development, so if your only exposure to Victorian social drama is Charles Dickens, then give Trollope a try. That said, I would probably start with The Way We Live Now, which I thought was a better book with a more engaging story.
Simon Vance is one of my favorite audiobook readers, and he delivers great Victorian performances equally well with his readings of James Bond novels.
I have just finished part I. I look forward with great anticipation to parts 2 3 and 4. All I can say is, I look forward to every minute I can get back to Alice, her marvelously well-drawn, nefarious cousins, the equally carefully drawn Mr. Grey and Alice's father, and of course, the Aunts.
Simon Vance, one of the great narrators of this world, does a magnificent job. He's got the characters down pat, and all the various accents in place.
Too many to elucidate. However, there's isa marvelous scene that comes to mind. It is between John, one of the nefarious cousins, and Mr. Scrooby, a lawyer, and a publican, whose name eludes me. The lowliest, the publican, outfoxes them all in ways financial. Very satisfying, if nefarious in every way possible.
There's a marvelous scene between John, one of the nefarious cousins, and Mr. Scrooby, a lawyer, and a publican, whose name eludes me. The lowliest, the publican, outfoxes them all in ways financial. Very satisfying, if nefarious in every way possible.
Too many too elucidate
No way. Not possible, but if it were, it would be an insult to this great author.
Trollope, as opposed to Dickens, is never boring. His characters are real souls, never plainly good or evil, and always interesting. They have views, but do not preach.
Trollope himself, on the other hand, has views. They come as little nuggets when least expected and are a joy to hear or read. They are written with irony sometimes, other times just a pithy, mind-opening morsel I find I must jot down so they can be recalled, when, as is often, I am at a loss to summon the words I need. Trollope fills many gaps.
When one thinks of this man’s childhood and early manhood, unloved and uncared for as he was, it is a miracle we have him. He even uses his talented, hardworking, Mother, who was also a very successful aruthor, as a rather heroic character in his own books. She, preferring his elder brother, abandoned and neglected him mercilessly, taking his sibling on a successful American tour; leaving him shoeless and starving at the mercy of his absent father. Through all this, laughed at and outcast, he managed to get to school and educated and became the forgiving, gentle, great author we know and love.
"Can You Forgive Her" is archetypal Trollope, a novel of landed and not-so-landed gentry scheming endlessly about love and money. I am disappointed in Simon Vance's narration, however. His faint and ethereal voice of Alice makes her sound as if she were praying on her deathbed instead of arguing (which is what she does throughout most of the novel), and his male voices conjure up images of Dudley Dooright and Snidely Whiplash. And when Vance isn't misinterpreting characters with his voices, he is misplacing the emphasis of words in sentences (e.g., reading "It's not you he WANTS" when the context requires "It's not YOU he wants"). After hearing John Castle read "Vanity Fair", and Hugh Dickson read "Bleak House", I expected much more than what I'm getting out of Simon Vance's narration of "Can You Forgive Her".
Took a while for me to warm to the pace and style of the story. I shall definitely be listening to more.
Lady Glencora. She just didn't squeeze herself into the mould and she was so sweet.
The narrator's rendering of the feminine became a little tiresome, perhaps two narrator's would have been great.
I enjoyed laughing now and then and enjoyed letting it roll over me.
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