14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2009
All of the reviews on this book are right - and yet they are wrong! For me, the central character is Adolphus Crosbie, a man with whom everyone must identify. Crosbie is a man who sees the right course and acknowledges it, but cannot stop himself from following the wrong one. Who cannot understand and sympathise with this? He finds something right, and true, which would make his life better, and help him to live his life better, but ultimately cannot resist the false glamour of an aristocratic marriage - even while he knows deep down that he despises the woman he is marrying and the things for which she stands. The passage after the wedding when he finds himself alone in the train compartment with Lady Alexandrina communicates the awful, empty, cold feeling that comes with acknowledging a great mistake like nothing I have ever read before or since.
Of course Lily Dale must not be forgotten, and she is indeed more than a symbol of simplicity and truthfulness. She reminds us that people make their own experience of love - it is not a "one size fits all" affair, and asks us the question about whether for some people love can only come once.
And of course being Trollope, along the way there are a variety of well fleshed out and engaging other characters (Earl de Guest is a particularly endearing one and Trollope saunters through himself, disguised as Johnny Eames), a few guest turns from old friends (Mr Harding stands as a moral fingerpost to Crosbie as he crosses the line between right (Allington) and wrong (Courcy Castle), and Lady Dumbello enjoys a quasi flirtation with a future hero, Mr Palliser), and lyrical descriptions of the beauties of the scenery.
Every page offers its pleasures and the book is a great joy. Finally, if you read it and like it, do try to get hold of a version with the original illustrations - by Millais- which are simply lovely.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2006
Although this book could never be described as 'fast-paced', it's a wonderful book. Trollope's language is so simple, contemporary and beautiful. The characters are so human, and I found myself really sympathising, empathising, enjoying... and getting annoyed with them! The book is about relationships between people, kindness, bravery, hope and hopelessness, love and lovelessness.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This fifth novel in the Barsetshire chronicles has, as often with Trollope, an almost stupefyingly simple plot: Lily Dale is courted by the 'swell' Adolphus Crosbie who then, not one month after their engagement, drops her for the daughter of an earl. Lily is heartbroken but resolves she still loves Adolphus and therefore can accept no other man, even though a much worthier man soon presents himself in the person of John Eames.
In a nutshell, that's all there is to it. But, as also always seems the case with Trollope, out of this simple plot he weaves a beautiful tale that keeps you turning pages although nothing much really happens (definitely not by today's standards). How so? For starters, Trollope is a master at analyzing and describing the thoughts and emotions of his characters (most of them ordinary people like you and me), which makes them leap of the page like real-life people you know in the flesh and, often as not, you find yourself identifying with one or more of the main characters, wishing them well and hoping they'll succeed in their endeavours as if they were your own. In this case too, although you know from the start that nothing will come of it, you cannot help but hope that Lily will give up her stubborn behaviour and accept the man that truly loves her.
Secondly, altough in this case the main plot gives little room for mirth Trollope does introduce quite a lot of humour by means of the various subplots and secondary characters (the head-gardener Hopkins for instance, or earl De Guest). It's rarely the laugh-out-loud kind of humour (although there's a few hilarious scenes) but mostly rather subtle, which makes it none the less effective.
Last but not least, Trollope writes in a very fluent, easy style, describing everything in plain everyday language which makes it all the more 'real' and accessible. And for the odd reference to classical literature or other you can simply refer to the excellent notes at the end.
All in all, a very satisfying experience even though there's no happy end, making me start the sixth and last novel in the series ('The Last Chronicle of Barset') with that most odd mixture of feelings: happy to begin a new book that you know will be good, and simultaneously sad knowing it's the last in the series!
on 6 August 2011
The Barchester series continues with this excellent tale of young love, immaturity, selfishness and broken hearts.
Lilly Dale is loved by John Eames. Yet it is another man Adolphus Crosbie who she gets engaged to. But is Adolphus the man for Lilly? Meanwhile her sister Bell is also coming under pressure to be married but for money, not love.
Trollope is back on form here, we have the usual funny moments, but also the casual yet devastating cruelty that is inflicted on the heroine. There are many subplots, the most interesting being the branch of the de Courcy family whose daughters wish to be wed, no matter what. Trollope's knack for showing his characters from all angles really pays off in this book. There are at least two people who deserve what happens to them in this book, but Trollope's skill is in making you still feel for them as people, even if you might quietly rejoice at their fate. The pace does falter occasionally, but this novel is extremely entertaining. As for the ending.....well it might seem unsatisfying but on reflection it's perfectly right for the characters. A great read, which my review doesn't do justice to.
Perhaps like me, you have been reading your way through `The Chronicles of Barsetshire'. After turning almost 600 pages in your reading of `The Small House at Allington', you'll have been in the good company of Anthony Trollope for five of the six novels in the series. In this fifth novel, however, you'll spend almost no time in Barchester, although some of its inhabitants show up from time to time. Expect to meet a new cast of characters.
Confrontations, curmudgeons and crises - things that Trollope can depict so well - are largely absent from this novel. Trollope resorts to the `Will A marry B?' plot formula and his exposition is long, slow-moving and lacking in suspense. What is unique however, in my reading of Trollope's novels, is his touching depiction of the searing heartache that a young woman may suffer when jilted by her lover.
on 14 July 2011
A delightful read. I had high expectations, having read other Anthony Trollope books, and was not disappointed. He has a lovely way of painting his characters,and a conversational style. For example, he may comment that he has not given a particular character particularly creditable traits, as it suits the story he has to tell, or perhaps has only provided a partial picture of a person, as this is not someone upon whom the main plot will focus. An interesting style. Very much an enjoyable read, with full, interesting people, each with their own hopes and fears. Many moral comments both good and bad. It is interesting to glimpse into the era, to see the constraints upon the middle and upper classes of the time painted in a compelling manner. I really wanted to read on to find out what would happen to them all! Well worth reading!
on 11 August 2012
I had read all the other books in the Chronicles of Barset series and, having never discovered The Small House at Allington in any Charity Shops, was delighted to find it (free!) when I was given a Kindle for my 75th birthday. Although it has references to other books, it stands very well on it's own as a fascinating glimpse into life around 150 years ago. Lily Dale makes a captivating heroine with her utter determination to keep faith with the man whom she loved but who then made a catastrophic choice and jilted her. There is a rich cast of supporting characters, beautifully observed, and the story is written with wit and compassion. A decidedly 'feel good' book despite the tragedy that lies at it's heart.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2000
Contrary to the synopsis given on this page this is actually the story of the nauseatingly perky Lily Dale who falls in love with the superficially glamorous Adolphus Crosbie, who proceeds to dump her unceremoniously in favour of the over-the-hill faded aristocratic de Courcy who he thinks will make his fortune (wrong). There is no sailor boy, or even ship, mentioned, as far as I can remember.
Other characters include the stupefyingly dull John Eames, who remains faithful to Lily despite her treating him like the village idiot, and the totally unmemorable Bella (Lily's sister), Bella's two suitors (one her cousin), and the most alarminly self-sacrificing widowed mother I have come across in Trollope.
Despite all this, however, I keep coming back to this book. There is about it a sort of fairytale mid-Victorian charm which completely offsets the total lack of charm of all of the central characters. This might also have something to do with its position towards the end of the marvellous Barchester Chronicles, the last (and next) of which is completely different and well worth a read even if you can't stand sickly heroines. There is a sickly heroine in the Last Chronicle of Barset but at least the girl has brains.
Trollope paints such a passive, traditional picture of his women that I'm surprised he wrote this book - normally he gives us women with a great deal of character. Many commentators have tried to persuade us that Lily has character, but frankly she never rises above schmaltz. One can only assume he was going through some marital conflict himself at the time...
One good thing about Lily, though, is that after her, Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (the book, not the ludicrous movie of the same name) seems like a feminist icon.
on 12 May 2015
Another stage in the Barchester Chronicles and, although I just couldn't get into Dr Thorne, the rest have been excellent. One of Trollope's great strengths is his characterisation and in "The Small House..." it is as good as ever. The participants are all well observed and you can sympathise, empathise or be genuinely irritated by them.
on 17 March 2015
Trollope at his psychological best! Although counted as one of the Barchester novels this is can easily be read alone. It's the story of two sisters and their love affairs and their family circle. I really enjoyed this book and started to race towards the end touched by the plight of these two girls and anxious to know how it would turn out.