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A wonderful end to a great series,
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This review is from: The Duke's Children (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
'The Duke's Children' is the last (sixth) part of the Palliser-novels by Anthony Trollope, and he begins it abruptly: by the end of the first sentence of the first chapter Lady Glencora Palliser (who figured so charmingly in all other novels of the series), is dead...
This leaves Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, not only utterly bereaved as he loved his wife dearly, but also makes him sole responsible for their three children: Lord Silverbridge (the eldest son), Lady Mary (only daughter), and Lord Gerald (the second son). Before long the Duke is confronted with problems by each of his children: Lord Silverbridge takes to betting and horse-racing and then falls in love with an American girl, Lady Mary falls in love with a respectable but penniless gentleman, and Lord Gerald gets kicked out of university! Worst of all, the Duke, who was never the most social and convivial of men (to put it mildly), finds himself unable to discuss matters openly and frankly with his children. At the core of the novel lies a deceivingly simple dilemma for the Duke: can he, who has been a Liberal politician all his life and has striven to reduce the gap (not to say gulf) between the classes, square it with his conscience to forbid his children to marry 'beneath their class'?
As always, Trollope describes in his typical easy style the various thoughts and feelings of the principal characters in great detail, and he does so without ever getting boring. And, contrary to some of his other novels, all principal characters are extremely 'likeable' people: they have their faults for sure, but you cannot help but sympathize with both the Duke in his desperate struggle to be a good father, and his children in their justified 'revolt' against what they feel to be matters in which they, as adults, should decide for themselves. In the end it's crystal clear (at least to us as readers) that they all love each other dearly and you cannot escape hoping that things will work out allright in the end.
Some of the earlier novels in the series are quite gloomy, but this one is truly optimistic in showing that, despite differences of opinion, parents and children can still love and respect each other. I loved all Palliser-novels, but this is surely one of the best. A worthy end to a great series!