60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Warden - the introductory novel to a great series
The Warden follows the story of Mr Harding, a cleric who is warden of Hiram's Hospital, a charitable home for twelve men who are no longer able to work. A local man, John Bold, is campaigning against corruption in the Church of England. He challenges the high income that the warden receives from the hospital (as a result of increased profits over the years from the...
Published on 9 July 2003 by S. Diment
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Daily Mail in novel form
Septimus Harding is warden of a home for retired labourers, Hiram's hospital, named after it's founder who set up a charitable trust for the support of its inhabitants. Over the years the trust has grown in value, but that value has gone to increase the warden's income rather than for the direct benefit of the pensioners. When passionate reformer John Bold decides the...
Published 4 months ago by P. G. Harris
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle and entertaining read,
The eponymous Warden is Mr Septimus Harding, who presides over the twelve bedesmen of Hiram's Hospital, a local almshouse. Everyone lives a comfortable, happy life until John Bold, a zealous young reformer who comes courting Mr Harding's younger daughter, launches a campaign to redistribute the way that the income from the Hospital is apportioned between the bedesmen and the Warden as Bold believes the Warden receives an unfairly large amount. Soon the press are involved, Mr Harding's good reputation is tarnished, the bedesmen become increasingly eager for more money and Mr Harding's son in law Archdeacon Grantley is interfering. But the biggest problem of all turns out to be Mr Harding himself.
Ever since reading Elizabeth Goudge's cathedral city books at the prompting of a wonderful English teacher I have been a fan of gentle stories of the clergy in which very little happens, so I was sold on the concept of The Warden before I even began to read it, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. The story is sweet, charming and amusing, absorbing because of its characters and the way in which it is told rather than for what happens.
By far the most appealing aspect of the book is Trollope himself. His narratorial style is both distinctive and enjoyable. I love the way in which he alternates between protesting that he has no control over what happens to the characters as they act entirely of their own volition and assuring the reader not to worry about the characters because he knows exactly what will happen to them and it is nothing bad. His persona as the narrator come as being genial, jocular and slightly bumbling, like an elderly uncle in a Dickens novel (an impression not helped by his bearded and bespectacled physical appearance), but at the same time it is impossible to forget that as an author he is sharp and intelligent, capable of making keen observations and challenging accepted ideas even though the story itself is very mild. I enjoyed this so much that I think I'd gladly read him talking about almost anything if this is the style in which he does it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate, Human and Sympathetic,
The Warden is Trollope's attempt on the same territory as Dickens' Bleak House - the Victorian civil legal system but whereas Dickens uses the everlasting cast of Jarndyce v Jarndyce as background to his story, Trollope uses his legal dispute as the centerpiece and focuses on the human impact of the case in a much more plausible way.
The plot concerns a legal attack on the use to which the Barchester Bishopric is putting a charitable legacy. Money that was intended to help the poor in a retirement home is being used to provide a generous income to the priestly warden of that home - the gentle and generous Septimus Harding.
The book beautifully explores the impact of the case on all involved. Rev Harding is vilified in the press, the inmates of the home rebel against him, the town is split on the issue and the church employs a top legal team to fight off the challenge. Adding spice to this is the fact that Mr Bold, who is love with Harding's daughter, is leading the case against Harding and that Mr Harding's son-in-law is leading the defence, being both Archdeacon and the son of the Bishop.
Having been through legal processes myself I can say that Trollope very accurately portrays the momentum that such cases build up, the attitudes of the lawyers, the difficult positions that people find themselves in and the emotional awfulness of it all. He does this much more gently, sympathetically and in an altogether lower key than Dickens and is more successful as a result. He even cheekily has a direct pop at Dickens who appears as Mr. Popular Sentiment and is derided for having overly simplified characters in his stories.
However, whilst the good bits here are very good indeed and get right inside the characters and their emotions and motives, there are two problems. First this has the feel of an unfinished draft since there are some sections that are little more than sketches - the preamble setting the background scene for example reads like a set of notes to be gone back to later by the author for fleshing out and integrating with the story. The final parts of the story feel rushed and incomplete, with parts of the narrative not yet resolved, although there is more to come in the follow up book - Barchester Towers. Second, there are occasional long winded rants on various subjects such as the Press, which although impressive feel overdone and out of place.
If you want to be an insider in a difficult and messy court case this is a good place to start and for the most part very enjoyable.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good old-fashioned story,
I stumbled on Trollope's novels by sheer coincidence, until very recently he was to me what he apparently is to many: a largely forgotten Victorian novelist (one, however, who seems to be enjoying a well-earned revival lately). I decided to go about things in an orderly manner and start with his Barchester-chronicles of which 'The Warden' is the first novel.
And a delightful novel it is too! Contrary to what we've perhaps come to expect from a present-day 'good' novel nothing much really happens: Mr. Harding, an elderly priest and warden of an almshouse in (the fictional cathedral town) Barchester, suddenly finds himself in the eye of a public storm when a leading newspaper - instigated by his own future son-in-law - claims he is misappropriating funds meant for charity. What follows is the profound soul-searching of Mr. Harding as to whether or not he is guilty of such a fact.
'The Warden' throws you right back into an age with completely different mores and morals, and yet has a relevancy for our current day and age. Mr. Harding is - to our 21st century eyes - so utterly innocent, naive and well-meaning as to seem almost a dinosaur, but on the other hand you cannot help but think that the world would probably be better of if there were a few more Mr. Hardings around.
The writing is delightful, though what happens to Mr. Harding is not, and there is that undefinable something in Trollope's style and handling of the subject that draws you in and keeps you turning pages, sympathizing with Mr. Harding's plight (at least, that's what I felt) and wishing him well.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will definitely continue with the next novel in the Barchester-chronicles.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Warden,
A thorough examination of what it is to be good, or to be seen to be good. Plenty of good characters whose motivations are dissected and laid bare by the authors gently mocking voice. Readers expecting something dry and a bit stuffy might be surprised how modern this novel is, I loved this and look forward to the next one in the series.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars,
Bit long winded in parts but a good read, sympathetically written
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
Excellent book and very moving.
5.0 out of 5 stars success,
All as expected
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read,
Interesting book. Difficult to get in to but worth pursuing. It makes you examine your principles. You constantly changed your mind as to who is right about the situation presented. A very cleverly written tale.
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Barchester novel, and still good to read,
This tale underpins the even greater Barchester Towers, and is so sympathetic to the gentle Warden of the title, and so clever in its (incredibly modern) exposure of the powers of the press and manipulative legal machinations that it becomes timeless in its appeal.
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written,
A beautifully written book that I have enjoyed reading. It is not a page turner but has kept my interest and will open discussions at the Book-club meeting on many different topics, it makes you realise the affects of simple actions, I am really pleased I have read this.
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The Warden (Dover Thrift Editions) by Anthony Trollope (Paperback - 1 Nov 1998)