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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2017
Phineas Finn is the son of an Irish doctor, and makes his way to London to train as a barrister,. But before he is trained, he is scooped up by a friend and persuaded to stand as an MP. Much of the novel is about his career as a politician, and there is a lot of politics in this novel. As always, Trollope spares the reader no detail, and I did find the lengthy descriptions of the goings-on in parliament were a bit much.

But in tandem, there is Phineas's love life, for he is very attractive to women, and several are vying for his attention. Will Phineas go for the lovely Lady Laura? The wealthy Violet Effingham? Poor faithful little Mary, waiting for him back in Ireland? Or will he succumb to the charms (and the fortune) of Madame Max? As always with Trollope, love and money don't always go together, and the reader has to wait until almost the end of the novel to find out which way our hero's decision goes. He certainly kept this reader guessing up until the end.

I love Trollope; he's my favourite author, and I've read most of his books. But because this one is particularly wordy, I have downgraded it to four stars. But it is very much worth reading, and I would certainly recommend it to all Trollope fans.
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on 8 May 2013
It is surely right to rate Phineas Finn among Trollope's greatest achievements. The novel, part of the Palliser series - which can all be read independently and in disorder even though many of the same characters reappear in them - strikes just the right balance between social and psychological portrayal, between a story of ambition and political calculation and a more conventional love and marriage subplot. The book takes place before and around the second reform act. Phineas, the able son of a well-to-do Irish doctor, is elected, on a fluke, to parliament. As he takes up his seat in Westminster, however, he is torn between the aim of making his mark in that exalted assembly and his complete lack of independent means. Our hero, by dint of his charm, hard work, and good character, nevertheless manages to rise among the lords, ladies, and wealthy magnates that make his adopted London society. But reform soon threatens the loss of his seat. And while the solution might be to marry Violet, an unattached heiress, love, scruples, and male rivalries get in the way.

The introduction writes that Phineas Finn provides a good account of the passage of the second reform act. Not so, in my opinion. The act was passed by the Tories, whereas in the novel it is passed by the Whigs. The debate raged around the composition and level of the borough franchise, whereas Trollope was more interested in the ballot question and in the redistribution of seats that affects his hero. But Trollope never pretended to be giving a historical account. Where this is historical is in its restitution of parliament, its debates, clubs, and backdoor doings. The scene describing Phineas's first speech in the Commons is unforgettable. The historically aware reader will also enjoy guessing who is who behind the pseudonyms: Monk must be Bright, Gresham must be Gladstone, etc.. If you wish to know what it may have been like to be a young and aspiring MP in the nineteenth-century House of Commons, what went on from there to London's great houses, how elections worked, and what went on in and around the great country seats, Phineas Finn is the thing to read. Trollope has magnificently woven the various love interests around Phineas's own trajectory, moreover, and this side of the novel is written with equally great delicacy and conviction. I found myself compulsively blazing through this massive block of a book, and I recommend it as the best Trollope I have read so far.
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on 6 August 2008
This, the second novel in Trollope's Palliser-novels, is as good as one has grown to expect from such an immaculate novelist as Trollope.

Phineas is a penniless Irishman (his father being a modest country doctor) who, against all expectations (including his own) is elected to the British Parliament. This not only introduces him to the political world of the day (which Trollope describes with great acumen and at times sarcasm) but also to London society, where Phineas soon becomes a favorite. But before long Phineas is faced with two dilemmas. In his political life he has to decide whether, having become a government employee, it is his duty to always vote as the government does or to follow his own judgement (perhaps at the cost of his job). In his private life he is torn between staying true to his Irish childhood-love and (since she is penniless too) forsaking his dreams of a grand political career, or to dump her for one of the London heiresses...

The whole story is masterly told by Trollope whose style, once you've been introduced to it, is ever so charming and really like no other. I've been charmed and seduced by every single novel of his I've read so far and this one is no exception. Thoroughly recommended!
9 people found this helpful
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on 27 November 2014
I loved this work as Trollope is so good at creating memorable and believable characters. Phineas Finn is an attractive hero but is flawed which makes him very human. The book takes place at the time of the Reform Bill and when Rotten Boroughs were the norm. It also gives a vivid picture of the gutter press at the time - it does not seem to have changed much. I enjoyed this book so much I went on to the next book "Phineas Redux" which is a follow on.
One person found this helpful
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on 10 December 2014
After reading the Chronicles of Barsetshire, a microcosm of religious and to a lesser extent local politics in rural England, I fell in love with Trollope. With the Pallisers Novels Tollope has cleverly through Plantagenet Palliser, who played a minor role the chronicles, a conscientious, hardworking and politically ambitious man, relocated to London. His second novel in the series sees the swift rise, due in some ways to luck and his good looks, of the eponymous hero in the Westminster arena. Phineas is the son of a doctor who hails from Killaloe County Clare. The book centres around his preponderance to fall in and out of love of ladies with title and/or fortune and the vagaries of British Parliamentary politics at the time (1860's) including voting reform, the end of rotten boroughs and Irish tenancy rights. It seems to me that Trollope has an almost paternal affection for Phineas and however much he is deemed to err in his actions he is most judiciously forgiven by almost all. Trollope paints a vivid portrait of life in the upper echelon of both political and social circles which are intrinsically entwined. Loved it. Am now looking forward to The Eustace Diamonds.
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on 18 May 2013
My first time reading Trollope - had no idea how good he is, and I breezed through with great enjoyment.

Reviewers seem polarised by the protagonist. Finn is an ambiguous character, opportunistic and principled, so he keeps your attention as you wonder what his next choice will be.

The real joy comes from the love interests in London. The scheming of the three ladies is intriguing - each so different (even in age, just slightly), yet playing the same game in the knowledge that the consequences are fatal. And Laura is tragic because she brings despair upon herself.

The politics is interesting, and what struck me was the integration of classes, all having working connections with each other. I have no idea if that's a realistic portrayal, but from what I've read of Trollope's biog he seems to have worked his father's failure into Finn's choices.

It's a chunky book but light in the hands.
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on 12 September 2014
One of the political novels written by Trollope. This is the first of two about Phineas the other being Phineas Redux. Excellent book and I'm intending to read all of the Palliser series - total six by Trollope. One of those books which is difficult to put down and which gives a reflection of the 19C with some of the political issues at the time with lively clear characters.
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on 25 February 2018
I enjoyed it from beginning to end, as I do most of Anthony Trollope`s books.
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on 16 March 2018
I have not yet read the book as I had first to repair this paperback. An eighth of an inch slab of pages dropped out as I opened it; several others were loose. The condition was described as 'good' !

Waveney
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on 24 July 2015
What can I add to previous reviews of Anthony Trollope. Since discovering his works, he has become one of my favourite authors and Phineas Finn is well up to standard.
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