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.
Public Domain (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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.
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.
"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.
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.
The three parts of the book I downloaded are not the completion of the story as described in the summary on the site. What a let down. Otherwise, it's great.
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.
Not a writer, a writer wannabe, editor, lit maj, or pretend literary critic. Just an avid reader and now avid listener. I read at least one book a week and listen to an average of two per week. However, I am a snob and have yet to listen to my favorite novels preferring still to read some works.
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.
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.
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.
I am a voracious reader with fairly eclectic taste. I like both fiction and non-fiction, biography, history and current events. I like well written mysteries and suspense and I love 19th and 20th century classical literature as well as modern fiction. My favorite author is Philip Roth but I also love Trollope, Hardy, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. My favorite biographer is Robert Caro.
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.
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