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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Dr Wortle's School introduces the unassuming Mr Peacocke and his polite, newly-wed bride, as they join the teaching staff of an elite and exclusive Christian boys' school.

Dr Wortle, a devoted English scholar and the headmaster of the seminary academy, welcomes his two new teachers, confident that they will uphold the high standards of education at the school.

However, to Wortle's dismay, mystery surrounds the couple and whilst they assimilate themselves to life on school campus with ease, Trollope is quick to uncover their scandalous secret. Lady Peacocke is accused of bigamy, a heinous and unconscionable crime in 19th century society, after it is discovered that she was previously married. Her former partner is depicted as being an abusive drunk, whom Mrs Peacocke believed to be dead, but she is nonetheless stripped of her new surname.

When Mr Peacocke refuses to shun his beloved wife, it is left to the stern but fair-minded, Dr Wortle, to offer them a helping hand. As the parish of Bowick demand for the expulsion and banishment of the couple, the headmaster is the only thing that stands in the way of their demise.

Trollope's fortieth novel, he creates a humorous yet realistic portrayal of Victorian small-town politics and as a result, the detrimental impact that a closed-minded community can have on its citizens.

Narrator Biography

Timothy West is an English film, stage and television actor and director. He is noted for his great command of classical plays and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for three seasons.

During that time he appeared in Afore Night Come, The Marat/Sade, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love's Labour's Lost, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors and Timon of Athens.

His extensive TV and film career includes appearances in Miss Marple, King Lear, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Day of the Jackal, Cry Freedom, The Thirty Nine Steps, Ever After: A Cinderella Story and Iris.

Timothy became the artistic director of the Forum Theatre in Billingham in 1973 and later the co-artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre in 1980. He also became director-in-residence at the University of Western Australia in 1982 and in 2004 he toured with the Carl Rosa Opera Company as director of a production of H.M.S Pinafore.

Timothy West has narrated over 30 audiobooks including Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, Julian Barnes' The Lemon Table and William Shakespeare's Henry V.

In 1984, he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the profession.

(P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What is a Little Bigamy Among Friends?

Timothy West turned in his usual five star performance with this story. He has an amazingly flexible voice, narrating seemingly without effort bringing out the nuances of Trollope's work. This narrative was of special interest to me because the two villains as well as the heroine are fellow Louisianans. I say the two villains but actually I think their blackest crimes are almost venial in comparison to the evil done by the gossiping women, particularly Mrs. Stanalope in this story. Indeed, the pain and damage inflicted by gossips is a real evil today as it was during the time of this story.

Trollope had a talent for picking hot topics, in this case, the heroine was a bigamist albeit unwittingly. This subject is just as hot today judging from stories in the press. What paper or television news program could restrain itself from leading with such a story? Trollope, I think rather liked taking on heroines with flaws. For instant, in Doctor Thorne the lady was born illegitimate. In essence, Trollope digs a hole for himself to scramble out dragging his heroine with him. The author's job is to make the reader like the heroine. Bigamy certainly didn't make his job any easier but these stories sold newspapers, then and now.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • murray
  • LOS ANGELES, CA, United States
  • 10-29-12

trollope rocks!

What did you love best about Dr Wortle's School?

just loved all the characters and the story just moved right along - sorry it ended so soon

What did you like best about this story?

the shock of the storyline - couldn't believe it in victorian times

Which character – as performed by Timothy West – was your favorite?

the doctor who timothy west plays to perfection - makes you see that person.

Any additional comments?

as much as i love mr. west i am always amused the way he portrays american women with a deep voice

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Trollope is amazing, and Timothy West is amazing

This is my first and only review of a Trollope novel. It is not my favourite of his novels, but I think it’s in the top five. I love ALL of Trollope’s novels and have listened to almost all of them available on Audible.

I’m a fan of classic fiction and I appreciate good classical writing. My favourite another’s are Dostoevsky, Jane Austen, Willkie Collins… and now Trollope. I went through an Audible Trollope marathon and started to find the books all resembled one another so much I was losing track of which characters stared in which books. So I went on to some modern fiction (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and some other classics like the Count of Monte Cristo and Madame Bovary. Then I went back to Trollope and am now convinced that he is one of the best writers I’ve come across. His characters make you love them AND hate them, sympathize with them AND censure them. I’m very sad that I’ve almost listened to them all.

My favourite is The Way We Live Now, but they are all really good. I recommend listening to the chronicled books in their proper sequence, so you don’t get confused (there are websites that can help) and I recommend the recordings narrated by Timothy West; his voice is perfect for these novels.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A modest Trollope gem

If you are already a Trollope addict you'll enjoy this sharply etched study of manners and morals among the rural Victorian clergy and gentry. If you're new to the master, start with one of the more famous classics, where the pace is faster and the humour more pronounced. Timothy West, as always, is superb.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story

Excellent story and narration. Thoroughly enjoyed each characters. I love the spunk of the doctor and how he ran his school and selected the applicants.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Philip
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 06-09-10

well-done

Trollope is no too popular these days, which is a shame. This a good story, with modern sensibilities. The narration is excellent, with the exception of Mrs. Peacock's voice. Fortunately, as in much of Dickens, the female characters in Trollope are not very important actors, so this is not such a big deal.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

B +

Life is full of ironies. I bought this book because, after the six-volume odyssey of Barsetshire, I was wondering what Trollope was like in a shorter format. Maybe I could get the same enjoyment for a less daunting time commitment. Alas, I ended up wishing the book was longer.

True, I was enchanted by Trollope’s opening gambit—revealing the “mystery” of the story and declaring that he would not rely on that to draw me on, but rather would try to hold my interest by showing the ways in which the doctor, the bishop, the schoolboys, their parents, the neighborhood and society in general discover and react to that mystery. Human nature, human actions and reactions, are the heart and soul of Trollope’s best works.

But by the end, something was missing. I perused online reviews and reactions; was I missing the finer shades, or did others have that same, weird, stepping-on-the-last-step-that-somehow-isn’t-there feeling about this novel?

Turns out some think it a minor masterpiece, while more sense the disappointment I felt. As mentioned above, Doctor Wortle is vintage Trollope: an exposition of what happens when good intentions get misunderstood; an exploration of the tension between the clear-cut doctrines of faith and faith as you and I live it out in the less clear-cut circumstances of everyday life. Trollope knows we need doctrine, a common understanding of right and wrong. But we also need to weigh cases on their individual merits. (the Peacocke’s, for all their misfortunes, nevertheless acted wrongly). But the real complications of the story—complications that threaten to destroy Doctor Wortle’s School—are the result of gossiping backbiters who, over their teacups and muffins, forget the delicate balance between unbending truth and unfailing mercy.

Doctor Wortle’s School is a place where we can learn a lot. But ultimately, the story is unsatisfying. The ending is rushed. The loose ends get tied up too neatly—and too happily. For all his acknowledgement that the young Mary Wortle and her affianced may be headed for trouble—a standard dose of Trollopeian Reality, and another aspect of his work that makes me place him higher in the Pantheon than Dickens—we’re left wanting to see what that trouble might be. Unlike Mr. Harding, who lost his post as warden in the first of the Barset novels, or young John Eames who, in the fourth and fifth installments, fails to win his ladylove, the Peacocke’s end up happily (and legally) united, Doctor Wortle’s School recoups the boys it lost, and the doctor’s daughter gets her sprig of nobility. I’m not saying a Trollope novel can’t end happily. But there’s usually more suffering and uncertainty along the way. In other words, more pages.

Before embarking of the Barset Chronicles, I had to decide between Simon Vance and Timothy West. Vance won, so now I was eager to see how West read Trollope. Overall, he does an exceptional job; clear, crisp diction, the perfect lilt of irony or humor, characters who sound like people. My only real quibble (beyond mispronouncing some American place names) is his tendency to make the American Mrs. Peacocke’s southern accent sound very much like her gravelly, ne’er-do-well brother-in-law’s.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Charming and short

Dr Wortle is a fiercely loyal man whose very loyalty brings about a terrible crisis for him. A married couple at the school turn out to be not quite married. All of Trollope's most charming traits as a writer are in evidence, and Timothy West gives his usual sterling performance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not Trollope's best

What did you love best about Dr Wortle's School?

Timothy West's narration. He is always spot on.

What did you like best about this story?

Victorian values... they are so different from ours so it's always interesting.

Which character – as performed by Timothy West – was your favorite?

Probably Dr. Wortle.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Book

What did you love best about Dr Wortle's School?

The issue was interesting and the character development was good. The writing is excellent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It was interesting to watch the process Dr. Wortle went through in working out many trying situations.

Which scene was your favorite?

The interaction between the Dr. and his wife in discussing the viability of their daughters' long engagement.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, it was enjoyable, but I needed occasional breaks.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arlene
  • 03-15-10

Dr Wortle's School

Timothy West reads the book with great clarity. The characters are clearly delineated. Trollope has the ability to describe a character so that you are able to know not only what they look like but how they think and act. Timothy West does justice to the author and I was completely absorbed in the story from beginning to end. The mark of a great author is that even though this is set in a time far removed from ours as regards marriage, living in sin and other moral situations we can easily identify with the moral dilemmas.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anne
  • 06-02-14

Great storytelling, beautifully read

This is a short, stand alone Trollope novel revolving around morality and the clergy. The characters are well drawn and the moral dilemma at the heart of the story is dealt with compassionately.
I have listened to the Palliser and Barcherster series and Timothy West's reading of Trollope is a great treat.
The book was published more than a century ago and some of the ideas and language are peculiar to that time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • tonyridgway
  • 01-20-15

Typically Trollope.

Brilliant narration . An excellent story with subtle humour and an intriguing plot.I feel that Dr.Wortle must be at the very least half cousin to Barchesters Archdeacon Grantly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • bibliophile
  • 09-27-14

Very enjoyable.

Perhaps not to everyone's taste, but this is a very enjoyable narrative, and it is expertly read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • p m wootton-davies
  • 06-19-14

Gentle tale

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes Because it is a very interesting reflection on the time it was written

Who was your favorite character and why?

The curate, because he was an old fashioned gentleman

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The reconciliation at the end

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No It was a book to listen to at leisure

Any additional comments?

Anthony Trollop's stories are all worth reading or listening to

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rosemary
  • 05-03-18

Masterful performance

As always, Timothy West reads perfectly. It is wonderful how he manages subtly to suggest the voices of the characters, even the American accent of Mrs Peacock.
His interpretation adds hugely to my enjoyment of the book, as does all his Trollope readings. I wish he would record more of them.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 11-05-17

A situation no longer remarkable

The moral dilemma Dr Wortle finds himself and to which he responds in what I think most of us these days would consider an enlightened and compassionate manner must have been pretty revolutionary at the time - at least, Trollope's treatment of it must have been. I read another review, suggesting Trollope's attitude was 'compassionate' and I think one can't improve on that description. That's one of the great joys of Trollope's writing: his attitudes to a number of things are way ahead of his time and his characters, particularly his women, have credible intellects and he appears to value their opinions - compare Dickens, whose women, though vastly entertaining, are almost all either monsters or ninnies.

So: another interesting and enjoyable story and, as ever, Timothy West is perfectly matched to the material. The man is a master of this. There seem to be some titles still that he hasn't recorded...can someone from Audible ensure he record the remaining ones and that as soon as possible?

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • AReader
  • 08-20-17

Wonderful

Would you consider the audio edition of Dr Wortle's School to be better than the print version?

Timothy West's narration makes you realise that Trollope is a satirist. It's not cosy at all.

What did you like best about this story?

The believability of many of the characters. Dr Wortle, and most of high society.

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

The way his reading brought out the hypocrisy and cowardice of Victorian society and almost makes you laugh sometimes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It would be worth it, though it is rather long!

Any additional comments?

Trollope had to have a happy ending and a love story, which may seem a bit perfunctory.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • fay
  • 10-29-16

Unexciting Not one of his best.

love Trollope and have read a great deal of his work. I am glad this wasn't one of the first or I might not have gone on to read his others so quickly. As ever Timothy West was brilliant.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan Whitehead
  • 03-08-16

Dr Whortle's School

A very good story, well readby Timothy West. It was fairly short but nevertheless very interesting