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Can You Forgive Her? (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Anthony Trollope , Kate Flint , Andrew Swarbrick , Lynton Lamb
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 May 1999 019283469X 978-0192834690 New edition
Alice Vavasor, a girl of independent spirit and means, is engaged to the paragon John Grey but, seemingly distressed by his perfection, she jilts him in favour of her less reputable cousin, George. Alice's story is interwoven with that of the early married life of her friend, Lady Glencora.

Product details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (27 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019283469X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834690
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,611,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Anthony Trollope knew more about women than any other novelist of his time" (Joanna Trollope)

"He is not a soothing writer at all, in fact he's rather subversive. Nobody gets away with anything in Trollope" (Victoria Glendinning)

"Trollope is wonderful, a major novelist, a joy... particularly admire his empathy with his characters, and the way in which he describes women...unique among male novelists, better even than Henry James, in his ability to enter the lives of women characters, and women on their own" (P.D. James)

"Pithy and pungent, almost like Jane Austen" (Amanda Craig) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

With sympathy and care, Trollope observes the romances of two controversial heroines in the first of his Palliser novels --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"WHETHER or no, she, whom you are to forgive, if you can, did or did not belong to the Upper Ten Thousand of this our English world, I am not prepared to say with any strength of affirmation." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex characters 9 Jan 2006
As one reviewer below has mentioned, this book does indeed take a while to grab your attention. For me it took at least 300 pages to really get going but once it did there was no putting it down.
Trollope's great trick is to get you to care about people you only half like and partially approve of. He very skillfully shifts your sympathies around from one character to another until by the end of the book you percieve them all fully rounded, with faults and virtues equally. You can even manage a small corner of sympathy for the most clearly 'bad' character in the book George Vavasor.
The other great thing about Trollope is his enormous understanding of women, their social position and the choices they face. What would he make of women today?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate, wise and surprisingly entertaining 23 Jan 2007
I started reading the Palliser novels after seeing a review describing them as "still the best description of British political life". They do, indeed, contain a lot of politics - particularly the later volumes, "Phineas Finn" and "Phineas Redux"; and this remains astonishingly contemporary. But the most up-to-date aspect of this extraordinary series of books is the sexual politics, as a series of vividly drawn women and men struggle to find happiness between social convention and sexual attraction. "Can You Forgive Her", which features the headstrong Lady Glencora Palliser and the intense Alice Vavasor both torn between desirable rakes and steady pillars of society, is to my mind one of the best of the series. It's also very funny, alive with irony and sophisticated wit.

For: beautiful writing, unforgettable characters, entertaining read.

Against: nothing. But it is quite long.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to the Pallisers 25 Feb 2001
The central story of this novel follows the fortunes of Alice Vavasor as she wavers between two men and two lifestyles. The aptly named Mr Grey has the merit of truly caring for Alice rather than her money whereas her cousin George's suit seems based on ambition, freedom from debt and a desire to outdo his rival. The choices seem simple to the reader but Alice's stubborn nature is combined with a fickle moodiness that makes her follow a more complex path. Her attachment to her cousin thus seems harder and harder to understand as it becomes clear she guesses that a spiteful greed and hatred underlies his outer veneer. Later in the story, however, the light from the flawed character of Alice is almost lost in the glare from the vibrant Glencora, wife of the rich and powerful politician Plantagenet Palliser. Lady Glencora has already faced a very similar choice to that of Alice and is now trying to live with that decision. The Pallisers almost steal the show; setting-up the reader to enjoy the series of "Palliser" novels of which this is the first. This tale combines Trollope's excellent use of language with some memorable characters and events, all of which should hold the attention of anyone who enjoys classic satirical fiction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece! utterly brilliant! 23 April 2008
"Can you forgive her" is the best Trollope book I have ever read and although I am far from having read them all, I must have been through at least 12 of them. In "Can you forgive her?" spirited Alice Vavasor cannot reconcile herself to the idea of marrying the man she truly loves because his sedate style of life doesn't agree with Alice's idea that people who have knowledge and opportunity should make something useful of their lives.As a woman she cannot take an active part in political life and is therefore determined to be the helpmate of someone willing to take risks and to serve his fellowmen. She becomes engaged to her cousin whose political ambitions she respects but finds herself distraught at having promised herself to a man she cannot love... and then starts the long campaign of Mr John Grey, jilted lover of the resolute Alice, who is unable to come to terms with the fact that the woman he cherishes is not to be his and who is determined he shall overcome all obstacles and marry her after all.
The book is peopled with unforgettable characters from the wonderful aunt Greenow to the memorable farmer Cheeseacre who is desperate to get married but whose ideas of romance consist in telling the woman he covets how lucky she is to have been selected as his prospective bride...
And we meet Glencora Palliser, Alice's cousin, a young woman who has been married off to a prominent member of the establishemnt and who is deeply unhappy as she cannot forget the good-for-nothing but handsome and blue-eyed Burgo Fitzgerald her heart longs for...and a host of other people just as brilliantly sketched.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow your heart 13 July 2010
By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
In this, the first of the Palliser novels, Anthony Trollope tells three inter-twined stories. In the first the lovely but indecisive Alice Vavasor dithers awkwardly between the two men in her life - the saintly John Grey (upstanding, respectable, wealthy and, yes, a bit dull) and her cousin George (dashing, charismatic, charming and about as acceptable in polite society as a nine-pound note). In the second the coquettish Mrs Greenow - perpetually dabbing at her eyes in posed melancholy rememberance of her rather uninspiring deceased husband - teases and toys with the affections of her two suitors: the wealthy but oily Mr Cheesacre and the charming but thoroughly shabby Captain Bellfield - hero of many non-existent battles in places no-one can ever find on a map. Finally, in the third strand of the narrative, Trollope tells the tale of Plantagenet Palliser and his efforts to rise in the government of the day while keeping his delightfully free-spirited wife, the very lovely Lady Glencora, under some sort of control.

As ever with Trollope the real joy of the novel lies in the characters. Somehow the people in his books are every bit as memorable as those in Dickens and yet they always manage to remain on the right side of caricature. My personal favourite in Can You Forgive Her? is Mrs Greenow, perpetually playing her two suitors off against each other. At one point Captain Bellfield goes down on bended knee and pursues the widow around her drawing room professing his undying love only to be met with Mrs Greenow's superbly withering comment 'You've pushed all the chairs about, you stupid man'. She's fabulous and she steals every scene in which she appears.

There is, however, a serious message beneath all the comedy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the Palliser sagas
Witty, insightful and compassionate. Trollope's characters are well shaped and believable. His take on the position of young upper middle class women in Victorian society is very... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Pat the Cat
5.0 out of 5 stars Can You Forgive Her?
Alice Vavasor cannot make up her mind whether to marry her cousin, George Vavasor or John Grey. They are two completely different men. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Damaskcat
5.0 out of 5 stars One of His Best
Packed with a mid-Victorian "trapped marriage" crisis and two of Trollope's most subtle character studies, this is the book that gave Tolstoy the plot of Anna Karenina
Published 6 months ago by Osmin7
5.0 out of 5 stars a good old fashioned romance, interesting to read a book written in a...
Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Difficult at first to assimilate the relatively old fashioned style of writing, but perseverance brought it's rewards. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Vincent Esposito
4.0 out of 5 stars BOOK OK - SCANNING IS APALLING
This book is good Trollope.
The Kindle version is marred by the high number of mis-spellings and similar errors following the scanning. Read more
Published 7 months ago by DAVID WILSON
5.0 out of 5 stars history,politics and romance
Trollope is less renowned than Dickens but I think ranks with him. He is especially good in his realistic portrayals of women - there are no sickeningly sweet females, nor does he... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dr. Alison J. Overend
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF TROLLOPE'S FINEST
I bought this copy to replace one which had fallen to bits after years of re-reading.

When I read it forty years ago domestic violence - by fists or by mind control -... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars great story
Trollope is great fun, and this ironic story is the first of the Palliser series which I love. If you like 19th century English novels (particularly if, like me, you have to... Read more
Published 16 months ago by M. Keren
5.0 out of 5 stars great
I have read other novels by this author and can't wait to read this one. It will make a good read on holiday.
Published 17 months ago by tiddioggie
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you forgive her?
Can you forgive her?
Excellently read and a marvellous novel. I will be ordering the rest of the Palliser novels on CD when I have finished listening to this.
Published 18 months ago by Anthony McConnell
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