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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic of the period,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)I confess that Anthony Trollope is my favourite author and, whilst I have not read all of his work by any means, I have read a significant chunk, indcluding all of the Barsetshire series of which "The Last Chronicle of Barset" is the sixth and final novel. I can honestly say that this is one of Trollope's finest works and the second best of the series behind only Barchester Towers for me. Trollope is a much underrated novelist, superior to Dickens in my opinion, and it is a real shame that his work is not more widely recognised as this book is as fine an example of Victorian literature as the reader could ever hope for.
The main storyline revolves around the very poor curate Josiah Crawley, who uses a cheque to pay a bill which is then found to have been recently stolen. Crawley is unable to explain how it came in his possession, despite his best efforts to recall where it came from, and he is charged with theft and a trial scheduled. Before long the whole of Barsetshire world is talking about these events and is divided between those who think him guilty and those who believe him to be innocent. Alongside this main storyline runs a continuation of the story of Lily Dale and John Eames from the previous book in the series, as well as the romance between Archdeacon Grantly's son Henry and Mr Crawley's daughter Grace.
Trollope skilfully weaves together these main storylines whilst also neatly tying up some loose ends from elsewhere in the series. Despite this being a long book, it never felt like it to me. The story moves at a decent pace, with some minor repetition which I suspect is due to the serialisation of the novel when originally published and which is only a very minor irritation. With the end of every chapter I wanted to keep reading on and it never felt like a slog to get through which can be the case with long books. The storyline surrounding Crawley actually has more suspense in it than many of Trollope's novels, although most keen eyed readers will be able to guess the resolution before it comes. The suspense created helps keep the story moving forward at a decent pace. Part of Trollope's genius is to be able to create a fascinating story which, when summarised does not seem like it should be so, and yet in Trollope's hands it just works.
Arguably Trollope's great skill is his characterisation, and this is on show at it's finest in this novel. The storyline is fairly thin and yet the characterisation means that despite this the book never becomes tiresome. Many of the characters we have come to love or hate in the previous novels are revisted here with great effect as well as the introduction of some wonderful new characters such as Madalina Demolines, Clara Van Siever and Mr Toogood. Mrs Proudie, perhaps Trollope's most splendid creation, is magnificently devious and wicked in this book and yet she does get her comeuppance and I almost felt sorry for her that it was so, and was very sad to see the back of her. Trollope's observation of human nature is nothing short of genius, with his observations about the feelings and motivations of all his characters acutely observed and written. His depiction of Crawley, who these days would undoubtedly be diagnosed as clinically depressed at the very least, is nothing short of stunning. Crawley remains a largely unlikeable figure due to his stubborn, moralistic and judgemental nature, and yet Trollope manages to create massive sympathy for the character through his depiction of a man driven to the edge of his sanity by events over which he has no control. Trollope's characters are human, that is the mastery of his achievement. None are perfect, none are out-and-out evil, but all a mix of everything that makes people human and because of this the characters leap of the page and you almost feel you could reach out and touch them.
The only slight criticism I have, if any, of this wonderful book is the London aspect of the story which is only loosely tied to the Crawley events by the character of John Eames. Whilst it was interesting to revisit the Lily Dale/John Eames/Adoplhus Crosbie story and for it to be resolved, some of the additional storyline that came along with it felt a little unneccessary and perhaps should have been another book in its own right. I would also have liked to see more of Mrs Thorne (the former Miss Dunstable) in this book - she is a brilliant character to rank alongside Mrs Proudie in my view and underused throughout the Barset novels.
I am very sad to have come to the end of both this book and the series as a whole, and look forward to the day when I can pick them up and start all over again in the future. Not many books stay with me enough to keep me awake at night and then to dream of the characters when I fall asleep, but these have surely done so. Perhaps the best compliment I can give to this book, and indeed this series of books, is to quote Trollope's onw words from the last chapter of The Last Chronicle of Barset, which sums up brilliantly both how Trollope felt about these works, how I feel about them and how I am sure any reader who picks up these wonderful novels will feel about them - "But to me Barset has been a real country, and its city a real city, and the spires and towers have been before my eyes, and the voices of the people are known to my ears, and the pavements of the city ways are familiar to my footsteps. To them all I now say farewell."
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of his finest work,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)I am a huge Trollope fan and although I don't claim to have read them all, have read enough of them to justify my opinion of this as one of his best books.
Sometimes amusing, sometimes desperately moving, this book stands alone and must surely be one of the only works of the era to tackle clinical depression (as we would call it today) with reality, sympathy and pathos, but without sentimentality. Mr Crawley is maddeningly obstinate, gloriously courageous and in spite of his eccentric and gloomy character, retains his humanity. I find his mentality entirely credible, in spite of the fact that it is largely alien to modern society. The book is not wanting in lighter touches, but Josiah Crawley towers above the other characters.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy end to a great series,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)The sixth and last novel in the chronicles of Barsetshire is to my mind perhaps one of the best in the entire series, and one of the very best Victorian novels I've ever read. The main storyline centers on the impoverished curate Josiah Crawley: when he uses a cheque to pay a butcher's bill and that cheque is found to have been recently stolen from Lord Lufton, Crawley is unable to explain how it came in his possession. Crawley is sentenced to appear before the next assizes, and soon the whole of Barsetshire is divided between those who think him guilty (amongst others the immortal Mrs. Proudie), and those who believe him to be innocent.
Mixed with this are two love-stories. First of all there's the romance between Major Grantly (2nd son of Archdeacon Grantly) and Crawley's daughter Grace. They truly love each other, but the Archdeacon is horrified, and Grace herself too is unwilling to think much of love as long as her father is suspected of theft. And secondly there is the continuing story (continued from the 5th novel in the series, 'The Small House At Allington') of the romance between Lily Dale and John Eames, if romance is what one can call it: he eagerly continues to woo her and hopes to marry her, she as stubbornly continues to refuse him.
Although 'The Last Chronicle of Barset' is by far the longest book in the series, I wished it could have been longer still. Trollope never bores, in the simplest of terms he paints an utterly realistic picture of the increasing anguish of Josiah Crawley as it seems more and more likely that he is in fact guilty of theft. Crawley may be poor, but he is also extremely proud and unwilling to accept any kind of help or charity from the many people that wish him well. Trollope must have been a sort of 'natural born psychologist', because I have rarely encountered the ease with which he describes and analyzes the myriads of thoughts and emotions of his characters, and he does so in a very convincing way (there is no need here for a 'willing suspension of disbelief', everything Trollope writes is very 'believable').
I must confess that I got to know Trollope late in life but I am very glad I eventually did, and will beyond a shadow of a doubt re-read the Barsetshire chronicles at some future time, and read the Palliser-novels as well.
A final note perhaps: while reading the Barsetshire chronicles I kept ample notes of all family ties and relations between the main characters and have summarized those in powerpoint-slides (one per novel). If anyone's interested just e-mail me and I will mail them to you as soon as possible.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the love of old friendships, and the sweetness of old faces,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle Of Barset (Everyman Trollope) (Paperback)As time passes, the novels of Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) seem to gain in freshness, stature and influence. He lived long enough to see his modest reputation fade, in contrast to that of many of his famous novelist contemporaries. Nowadays the situation seems to be reversing.
Of special merit, amongst his huge output, are the so-called Barsetshire ("clerical") novels, and the so-called Palliser ("political") novels. Of the former, the last and longest is "The Last Chronicle of Barset". Not only are there fresh concerns, complications and current affairs introduced here, but there are also fond and final appearances of people and places encountered in the earlier Barsetshire novels. Everybody's favourite literary virago, Mrs Proudie, is again denouncing and dominating everybody. Trollope even contrives to create a character who has the temerity to say to her, "Peace, Woman!"
There are the innumerable characters of marriageable age, whose names are perhaps more memorable than their characters, whose charming dialogues and relationship problems are deftly laid out and interwoven. Above all, there is master story-teller Anthony Trollope, admitting finally that for him Barset has been a real place, a place where he as been induced to wander too long by his "love of old friendships, and by the sweetness of old faces".
Superb TV and radio adaptations of Trollope's Barsetshire novels have appeared in recent years. His novels read aloud well, too, and audio cassette readings, some of them unabridged, can provide endless hours of rich listening pleasure.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good as usual,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)My review is slightly different than those already here in that I thought this was the weakest of the Barsetshire novels. This was not my opinion for the first half or two thirds (at that stage I agreed that it was one of Trollope's best)but I found the final chapters to drag considerably. However the characterisation throughout is as unimpeachable as ever and that alone elevates the novel above the competition.
I concur with Trollope own realisation that in drawing his Barset chronicles to a close with this book it had clearly become time to move on to something new.
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)Another purchase to replace a copy worn out by reading and re-reading. Trollope's portrait of the central figure - and I won't spoil anyone's pleasure here - is one of the masterpieces of our language.
5.0 out of 5 stars Clerical intrigue abounds once more!,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)I have previously read novels in the Barchester series by Anthony Trollope, and this one does not disappoint. The characters are drawn with detailed accuracy, and the social ettiquette of the time is deliciously observed. At times, the predicaments of the characters leave the reader laughing aloud, as the minute trivia and concerns of daily life are played out. Trollope draws the reader in by stealth, as he questions the morals and motives of his family of characters. A great read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Really the Last Chronicle of Barset,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Hardcover)I had to buy a second-hand copy of this work to replace a copy worn out over the years. The edition was far better than my old version, seemed almost untouched, clean and undamaged, a book well worth owning. The text was of course the same as always, but if you need or only would like a copy do not hesitate to buy second-hand.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trollope's masterpiece,
This review is from: The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)The thing that elevates this novel for me is its combination of humanity and a watertight plot. Trollope reintroduces Josiah, a character who on his previous appearance, in Framley Parsonage (World's Classics), was deployed to provide a contrast to that novel's central character's flaws. Here, with great humanity and understanding, Trollope shows how the virtues displayed there also have a negative side. The clergyman emerges as an unsympathetic, self-centred but above all realistic protaganist. His difficulties are caused by a straightforward plot device with a satisfying resolution which, despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity, would put many a specialist mystery writer to shame.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most interesting Trollope Characters,
By A Customer
This review is from: Last Chronicle of Barset (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)Reading the Barsetshire novels in sequence, one finds it hard to believe that the man who created the insipid and pollyannaish Lily Dale also created the tortured Rev Josiah Crawley. Trollope's outstanding depth of insight into the human soul comes out in full force throughout the book, and the plot's not bad either. Absolute must for anyone who thinks Trollope is all about ladies and gentleman having tea in drawing rooms and hunting. OK, there are some ladies and gentlemen having tea etc but so much more than that. Just a shame some of his other books don't come up to this standard.
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The Last Chronicle of Barset (Penguin Classics) by Anthony Trollope (Paperback - 29 Aug 2002)