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4.4 out of 5 stars46
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 April 2000
This is one of Trollope's best shorter novels. Miss Mackenzie is an excellently drawn character and the psychology is very good - the odious narcissism of Lady Ball, the self deception of the unquenchable Mr Maquire, and the stolid, if weak, John Ball. And many others too. The plot is splendid (splendid but not intricate- just good). Prosaic, ordinary and very good and often very funny - an excellent read. If you like this try Doctor Wortles School, another good short novel by Trollope.
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on 24 April 1999
Anthony Trollope spends so much time doing the things that well-meaning creative writing profesors now tell one never to do--his editorial voice peppers each novel, he avoids subtle foreshadowing in favor of telling you essentially what will happen next, and he consistently drives plot towards a theme. Yet Trollope, a consummate Victorian, seems intrinsically modern whereas many more "literarily correct" modern humorists grow antique in a week or less. The secret, of course, is character, an eye and an ear for class distinctions, and a skewering wit combined with tremendous fellow-feeling for the foibles of his characters. Miss MacKenzie contains much of Trollope at his best--the title character is a beautifully observed genteel poor spinster-to-be suddenly visited with the misfortune of fortune. The author assiduously exposes flaw after flaw in Miss MacKenzie and her social milieu, and yet we like her better for the harsh light. In this world of tremendous unkindness, it is nice to remember that one can be honest without being brutal. Trollope, a writer of genial works of whimsy, brings the quiet honesty of literary fiction home safely here.
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on 21 January 2014
As a committed Trollope fan I was keen to read this unheralded story - and it came free to my Kindle. I soon became engrossed in Miss Mackenzie's life, her changes of fortunes and the men 'on offer'. Apart from the sheer pleasure gained from a good yarn, I was fascinated by the many insights into social structures and mores of the time. It almost put me off the heroine at times - when she won't eat at the same table as her landlady's working class husband - but, on reflection she was simply abiding by the conventions of the day and was not a strong enough character to go against them. As with all Trollope's books, there is a strong theme of the importance - and life-changing possibilities - of money and the lack of it.

I love to think of Trollope writing his enchanting books whilst travelling on a train, as I understand he did regularly.
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on 2 March 2013
This is the well known sentence at the end of Jane Eyre and it seems to me that Trollope' s novel is also mainly about one woman's trials and tribulations in relation to finding true love. However, as a study about the status of women within a particular bracket of mid 19th century England, I found it very intriguing.
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on 22 March 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Mackenie - she is both stupid and honourable, yet throughout the novel you empathise with her plight and always wish her well. Set in the antithesis of Austen's Bath, the upwardly mobile Miss Mackenzie is too old and not at all adept at fitting into the life of the city and too circumspect to engage or understand those who do. Her ups and down, her hapless attempts at manipulation, and her silly romantic notions are idiotic, also her very poor judge of character and dreadful decision making frequently lands her in hot water which adds to the anxiety the reader feels for her...great fun!
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on 26 February 2010
This book was a "neglected" classic chosen by Radio 4 recently. We read it in my book group and we thought it was great, and should not be neglected. It is a wonderful story about a put upon spinster who inherits money and is subsequently pursued by numerous suiters. It is full of great characters, often with names reflecting their work eg Mr Slow the lawyer and Mr Rubb the tradesperson. There is an intriguing twist in the middle, just as you are wondering how Trollope is going to keep the story going for another 200 pages. He does!
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on 29 August 2013
Another of Trollope's spirited heroines. He is so good at writing about strong women while male characters tend to be wimps. Interestingly the central male character is Trollope's age, fifty. He was also writing the first Palliser novel 'Can you forgive her?' at the same time. One wonders about Trollope's marriage. Highly recommended.
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on 9 November 2015
yet another hidden gem from the Anthony Trollope stable. It features a spinster sister of 2 brothers who nurses one of them until his death whereupon in her mid 30's she inherits his fortune much to the chagrin of the wife of the other brother. And so she comes out of the shadows and is able to sample life in a way that has never been available to her before. With money she is attractive to suitors but of more interest is the hold her natural attractions have on others. And then disaster befalls her. Trollope manages to keep the reader guessing until the penultimate chapter really as to the fortunes of Miss MacKenzie. His understanding of the plight of a female in her position is not perfect but given that he was writing as a middle aged Victorian man it's pretty darned good. And as always with Trollope lots of tiny details slipped in about the way people lived and were expected to behave.
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on 22 February 2012
What an astonishing, subtle book. Trollope writes admirably from a female perspective and the concerns are still very relevant to today's society. It isn't laugh-aloud funny, but there is humour here.

A few satirical passages drag a bit for the modern reader - the vulgar dinner party thrown by Mrs MacKenzie and the bazaar scene for instance - and some of the story takes overlong to resolve (Miss Mackenzie's final agonies are a bit drawn out) but this is still a great read.

Trollope's language is also very readable, unlike some of the victorian novelists where you have to read some sentences several times as they are over-complicated!
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on 4 March 2013
A truly marvellous story. A heroine you could gladly shake and villains and villainessess aplenty ! Trollope at his most comical,with an eye for hypocrisy that is hard to beat.
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