Thursday, May 9, 2013
The Claverings by Anthony Trollope
I recently looked up a list of Trollope titles to see if it was a reasonable goal to try and read them all. I found an article by English poet/novelist H.S. Davies who wrote that the best of Trollope is found in his two series (Barsetshire and Palliser) but that two other novels (of 47) are good examples of Trollope's tremendous talent. The first is The Way We Live Now (1873) and the second is The Claverings (1867).
I began reviewing The Claverings last week when I mentioned it in my "book report." I gave a hint there about my dissatisfaction with the book because I had a hard time appreciating Harry Clavering, a double-minded man when it came to love and marriage. As I watched him waffle on his engagement to Girl #2 when Girl#1 becomes a widow, I wished for a hero with more backbone. (Septimus Harding, Dr. Thorne and Plantagenet Palliser are men from other Trollope novels who are not perfect, but, nevertheless, are men of conviction.)
This novel was similar to an Austen novel in that everyone is seeking to make an advantageous marriage. Harry is jilted initially by Julia because he has no money. Mr. Saul is refused by Fanny because he is penniless curate. After Julia becomes a rich widow, several men seek her hand purely for financial gain. Interestingly, those who have married into money are the most unhappy people in the story. Yet Trollope isn't totally against the security that comes from wealth since most of the main characters in the book end up with well-feathered nests. I can't tell any more of the story without giving spoilers.
In spite of my irritation with Harry Clavering, I enjoyed Trollope's witticisms, especially with regards to Archie (one of Julia's suitors) and his friend Boodle. Also, the narrators at Librivox did an unusually good job on this one.