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This gentle story goes leisurely along as if there was no reason in the world to hurry. Indeed, there doesn't even seem to be a foreordained conclusion. Trollope writes as though he had no idea what was to come next; as if he was just as surprised as the reader. The story seems to ramble almost aimlessly but what delicious aimlessness. I think despite appearances, Trollope knew exactly what would come next; the seeming ramble is careful craft, an unsurpassed talent. This is a satisfying saunter through a gentle country romance albeit somewhat awkwardly with two charming suitors. Ah, but unexpected complications, setbacks, right angle turns and forks in the road are the forte of a Trollope story and makes him as fresh today as when first published in the mid 1800's.
Trollope was himself a bit dismissive of this unassuming work , maybe, because he did not juggle several dynamic stories in The Belton Estate, as he does in most of his novels. Nevertheless, it is a very affecting portrayal of two people "made for each other". The simplicity of the tale allowed Trollope to fully develop the excruciatingly annoying behavior of the characters who stand in the way of the happiness of the lovers. Trollope is a master at portraying the ordinary pettiness that causes most of life's problems. The Belton Estate, modest, but satisfying.
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