In Phineas Finn, the second of the Palliser novels, Trollope balances the rival demands of public and private life, entangling political ambitions with the experiences of love.
Phineas Finn, an irresistible but penniless young Irish barrister enters Parliament and comes to London leaving behind him an Irish sweetheart, Mary Flood-Jones. In London, Phineas wins friends on all sides and is admitted to high society. However, he also falls more-or-less in love, first with politically-minded Lady Laura Standish and then with Violet Effingham and finally with wealthy widow Madame Max Goesler.
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I purchased this book before reading the reviews, but now that I happened to read them, I downloaded Part 3, listened to the final chapter - "The Conclusion." The book is next to me on my desk and the end of the book is the same as my download, Chapter LXXVI, "The Conclusion." This is the 6th or 7th Timothy West narration of Trollope that I have bought. His performances are amazing. I hope "Phineas Redux" becomes available by the time I finish listening to "Phineas Finn." I'm glad I didn't read the reviews or I might have missed this one.
I have joined the Trollope Society because of the sheer delight that is to be found in this narrator's interpretation of Anthony Trollope's work. I love all the detail and subtlety. The writing takes you to another place and time in the most absorbing and fascinating way. I feel as if I am part of that world when I am reading. Robin Gibb was brought out of a coma by the singing of his family around him. I have told my husband that I want Timothy West reading Anthony Trollope if I am ever in such a dire situation. His reading is sublime. I love every single word. This production is simply perfect. Highly recommended.
Trollope was fascinated by contemporary politics, which are the common undercurrent of the six Palliser novels. He in fact ran unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate himself, and it's hard not to detect a particular fondess on the part of the author for Phineas Finn, who appears in several novels in the series, and who is the hero of two, this second installment, and book four, Phineas Redux.
Phineas Finn enters the House of Commons as an outsider on a number of counts: he is very young, he has no income (a real problem in the days when MPs received no salaries), he is not of particularly elevated social position, being the son of a country doctor, he is Irish, and he is a Roman Catholic. Despite these disadvantages, and repeated setbacks in the fields of politics, friendships and love, his charm, sociability, intelligence and determination drive a steady rise through the ranks of the House of Commons???until proposed legislation on the subject of Irish Tenant Rights poses a moral dilemma even Phineas cannot see a way out of.
All the Timothy West Trollope recordings are top notch, and this is no different. While this is probably one of the more "political" novels in the sequence, this should not put off anybody who has enjoyed the other novels, as it is all well explained, and the political side of the story is off-set with several subplots involving Phineas's private life--which, given that he is young, attractive, and has an irresistible eye for the ladies, is turbulent to say the least. Trollope is always sympathetic when depicting female characters, and Phineas's women friends, Lady Laura Standish, the beautiful heiress Violet Effingham, and the beguiling Austrian widow, Madame Max Goessler, are all fascinating in their own right.
It is worth listening to these novels in sequence if you can manage it, but not essential. The first in the series is Can You Forgive Her?, but you could easily start with Phineas Finn if you preferred.
As others have written, this is another extraordinary recording by Timothy West. The problem is, only 3 of the 4 parts are available. Audible customer service knows this -- or knew it -- and pulled the download for a month or so. Now it's back up, but part 4 is still not available (August 20, 2010). One star to Audible for making any Trollope narrated by West available -- one star, that is, if Audible tells their customers that this is incomplete.
"Phineas Finn" could be filmed in modern dress -- it's a timeless story. It follows a number of young people as they establish themselves in the adult world, and reminds me very much of my own youth. Everyone seems to start with more or less the same potential -- while Phineas feels he's been dealt a poor hand, it is perfectly clear he has advantages of wit and charisma that make up for his poverty. Those qualities lead him into temptation (he's no saint) and back out again. Others in his circle, as brilliant as their prospects seem, make decisions that lead them into compromised futures or even dead ends. As always, Trollope is shrewdly observant of human nature, and as always, draws sharp, powerful and engaging female characters, whose limited life options are particularly brought to our attention in this fine book.
This superb reading by Timothy West is marred by the fact that the last 15 chapters of the book are missing from Audible's initial posting. Phineas Finn consists of 76 chapters but as of May 2010, Audible's version had only 61 (presented in three files, lasting a total of 18 hours). It's to be hoped that Audible will quickly correct the problem as West makes a perfect reader of Trollope and this is one of the most accessible and entertaining novels in the Palliser series.
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
Sometimes it's good to take a chance. I love the historic detail even if it is fictional. I loved the vagaries of parliament and young Phineas' heart. However, I am glad I read "Can You Forgive Her" before taking on Phineas.
The story made me so curious about the history of politics in Britain, I started researching political history. This is the other reason I started reading as a kid. I will have to buy the written copy; Although, the narration was excellent!
To reiterate what another reviewer wrote, do not make this your first Trollope.
This book validates that well worn phrase "the luck of the Irish". The great metropolis, London, is Phineas' oyster. This poor, son of an Irish doctor, has prime ministers, beautiful wealthy women at his feet. What a guy, what a story. I just loved listening to it. Thank you Mr West for the great narration and thank you Mr Trollope for the great and so witty story.
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
How not to be charned by Phineas Finn, the Irish Member? The voices, the tale, the characters, the politics, it is all to be loved from beginning to end. Excellent narration by Timothy West. Most enjoyable.
"As good as it gets."
A beautifully read and fascinating insight into Victorian politics. Exactly the same problems and dilemmas face the modern politician. My great regret is that Audible have not yet bought the rights to other Trollope novels in the same series read by West. They are all there and can be found on tape.
This is one of Trollope's best novels. Phineas himself is a variation on one of his stock protagonists - the callow young man who finds himself simultaneously attached to more than one woman at a time. But he is a real character with a personality of his own, not a cardboard cutout. The Irish dimension adds to the interest and the picture of politics and the media is fascinating and never, ever dull. Lady Laura is one of Trollope's strongest and most interesting women, though as a man of his time he doesn't find her a way of exercising her talents. But that's how it was, and the waste of it is his point, even though he can't see a way out. And finally, as ever, Timothy West's reading couldn't be bettered. Roll on 'Phineas Redux' and the rest of the Palliser series.
"Another fantastic reading by Timothy West"
Timothy West makes these books come alive - he reads all the characters so beautifully with the right, but not overdone, accents and intonation. It makes the stories sparkle. If you don't like classic fiction, this could seem overlong and quite uneventful, but the reading really makes you care about the characters and what happens to them. I am slowly working my way through the whole series!
"Trollope and West: As good as it gets"
There are few writers that so deliciously capture the richness and wit of the English language. Once you have tuned in your ear, there is real delight to be had in both description and plot. These are cracking good tales:- heroes, heroines, villains, politics, romance, intrigue and deceit, laced throughout with humane, witty but absolutely acute observations of the follies and foibles to which we are all prey. This time round I am struck by how powerful the female characters are and how well drawn.
And Timothy West gives a master class in narration, ranging effortlessly from Irish brogue to Cockney slang as he brings to life even the most minor characters. I was so pleased to have discovered that he has narrated the enitre series and am now the proud owner of all 6 audiobooks. Go on....treat yourself!
"What a great listen!"
The world of Party politics; idealism, high principles, dedication v. ambition, jockeying for position, egoism corruption, realism...
The world of the Media: slic reporting, skillful editing, (mis)representation...
The world of a young man trying to make his own way: admiration, confusion, mistakes made, laurels won, hurt pride, conflict, happiness....
All topical today yet written in the nineteenth century. A fantastic study of human nature most skillfully and beautifully read by Timothy West.
I remember hearing this novel on Radio 4 (abridged) many years ago but had forgotten enough of it to make it seem as fresh as ever. Nobody reads Trollope as intelligently as Timothy West, nor makes the voices come alive the way he does.
This story combines a background of 19thC political and social history with the story of ambitious Phineas Finn, fresh from Ireland and intent on making a career in London. He starts with the Law and then enters politics. Characters from previous novels cross his path, like Plantagenet Palliser en-route to becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer, adding to the sense of returning to familiar friends.
You'll get impatient with Phineas as he vacillates between loves and political causes but he comes good in the end!
"Loose and baggy - and the better for that."
Politics without politics.
Laura Kennedy leaving Mr Kennedy.
He gets the pauses just right and expresses exasperation perfectly. Moreover, while Trollope is ostensibly a moderate conservative, his less obvious liberal sympathies come across in Timothy West's reading.
Vote Quintus Slide!
Two of Henry James’s criticisms of his contemporaries and immediate forerunners probably apply to Anthony Trollope’s “Phineas Finn” (1869). James disliked “loose and baggy monsters” and preferred “showing” to “telling.” “Phineas Finn” is certainly over-long and indulges in many sub-stories and character developments that a more form-conscious novelist, such as James, would edit out. As the novel drew to a close I just wished that Violet Effingham and Lord Chilton would decide whether to stay with each other or not. And Trollope remains the teller throughout, giving little to his characters’ consciousnesses. Yet there are qualifying comments to make in order to do Trollope justice.
On the showing and telling, while Trollope holds little back – they are his characters and they do what he wants them to do – he devotes chapters to their respective stories, with the result that the sum of the parts is far greater than the parts. Phineas, himself, gets viewed from different angles, even though it is – more than other Trollope novels – a quite traditional story of innocence to experience. As for the the looseness, it is what many readers like and here there is just so much going on in love (and property) and politics (and property) that, mostly, it is a delight.
On the politics, it is, of course, good to have a novel that takes politics seriously and is knowledgeable. However, like many political moderates, Trollope is, in the end, very interested in the processes and institutions but much less interested in the content of this or that parliamentary bill or issue, even important bills such as those on reform and Ireland. The Reform Bill, for instance, gives a structure and narrative to parts of the novel, rather than defining character and meaning.
But, for all that, Trollope is such a great read and if “Phineas Finn” doesn’t quite match “The Way We Live Now” or “The Prime Minister”, for me, it comes in well ahead of the Barchester novels.
"loved it loved it
narrated wonderfully I was totally sucked into the world of the hero Finn.
"A must for Trollopes (fans of that is)"
Excellent telling. If you like Trollope this is a good 'read'. Is Phineas naive ? Unworldly? An Adventurer? Will he be happy? I suppose that means I'll have to listen to the sequel!
"A great read"
Timothy West is such an excellent reader. He brings this tale to life and his interpretation of Trollope's characters is wonderful.
In his autobiography Anthony Trollope says that part of his writing process is "living" with his characters. This book captures the era of the mid1800s and at the same time the character of Phineas Finn gives insights about being a young person and finding one's way in the world - with both strength and foibles.
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