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Barchester Towers [Hardcover]

Anthony Trollope
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great volume in a great series of novels Dec 13 2001
This is the second of the six Barsetshire novels, and the first great novel in that series. THE WARDEN, while pleasant, primarily serves as a prequel to this novel. To be honest, if Trollope had not gone on to write BARCHESTER TOWERS, there would not be any real reason to read THE WARDEN. But because it introduces us to characters and situations that are crucial to BARCHESTER TOWERS, one really ought to have read THE WARDEN before reading this novel.
Trollope presents a dilemma for most readers. On the one hand, he wrote an enormous number of very good novels. On the other hand, he wrote no masterpieces. None of Trollope's books can stand comparison with the best work of Jane Austen, Flaubert, Dickens, George Eliot, Tolstoy, or Dostoevsky. On the other hand, none of those writers wrote anywhere near as many excellent as Trollope did. He may not have been a very great writer, but he was a very good one, and perhaps the most prolific good novelist who ever lived. Conservatively assessing his output, Trollope wrote at least 20 good novels. Trollope may not have been a genius, but he did possess a genius for consistency.
So, what to read? Trollope's wrote two very good series, two other novels that could be considered minor classics, and several other first rate novels. I recommend to friends that they try the Barsetshire novels, and then, if they find themselves hooked, to go on to read the Political series of novels (sometimes called the Palliser novels, which I feel uncomfortable with, since it exaggerates the role of that family in most of the novels). The two "minor classics" are THE WAY WE LIVE NOW and HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! March 14 2002
Barchester Towers is one of the most timeless British classics I have read. Told to us in narrative, this is a story of hierachy, power, love, and downfall, in this sacred, private, ecclesiastical world. Written with an intuitive perception for sights, sounds, and characters, there are no protagonists to whom you can sympathize, and yet each of these characters will leave you spellbound for there depth and sensitivity. The story is set in Barchester, a small divided city in the northern part of England. On one side of this division, and from where our story focuses, we have a wealthy church diocese, who with its own rules all must obey. Enter: Mr. Obadiah Slope. Single, sinister, and the new Dean of Barchester. From his very arrival he knew only of one thing, reform and change. And was met with scrutiny, and hostility, from a conclave where no secrets are shared or revealed. Poignantly written, the truths of this diocean world and its parshioners are slowly unveiled, as the author cleverly manoeuvres from chapter to chapter, giving us insight into conflicts among prominent families and the clergy. And it is these scenes of conflict among our characters: deceit, revenge, vanity, prosperity, and moral convictions, which are the most graphic, mesmerizing, and suspenseful, as any author could have written, and will leave you wanting more information as each page is turned. Written in an era when victorian men were considered strong parochial figures, and seduction among women sacrilege, the script is turned. And it is the women who dominate these pages, for there intelligence, independence, strength, and complexity. And ironically, it is the men who in my opinion, who are reduced to timid, naive, hypocrites. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully ridiculous! June 19 2000
By amf
I rushed home every day after work to read a little more of this Trollope comedy. The book starts out with the death of a bishop during a change in political power. The new bishop is a puppet to his wife Mrs. Proudie and her protégé Mr. Slope. Along the way we meet outrageous clergymen, a seductive invalid from Italy, and a whole host of delightfully ridiculous characters. Trollope has designed most of these characters to be "over the top". I kept wondering what a film version starring the Monty Python characters would look like. He wrote an equivalent of a soap opera, only it doesn't take place at the "hospital", it takes place with the bishops. Some of the characters you love, some of the characters you hate, and then there are those you love to hate. Trollope speaks to the reader throughout the novel using the mimetic voice, so we feel like we are at a cocktail party and these 19th century characters are our friends (or at least the people we're avoiding at the party!). The themes and characters are timeless. The book deals with power, especially power struggles between the sexes. We encounter greed, love, desperation, seductive sirens, and generosity. Like many books of this time period however, the modern reader has to give it a chance. No one is murdered on the first page, and it takes quite a few chapters for the action to pick up. But pick up it does by page 70, and accelerates into a raucously funny novel from there. Although I didn't read the Warden, I didn't feel lost and I'm curious to read the rest of this series after finishing this book. Enjoy!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll trade you two deans for a bishop
This book will be memorable for me because of the characters: the abusive Mrs. Proudie, the plotting Mr. Slope, the siren Neroni, etc. Read more
Published on April 1 2012 by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Too slow, too 19th century!
A classic, no doubt, but still a chore to get through. If Mr. Trollope were to write this book today, it would be half as long. Read more
Published on April 7 2005 by David C Polk
5.0 out of 5 stars Isn't it Amazing?
From another century comes a voice that speaks to us today. Most writers hope for a shelf life of a year or two. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2001 by "marthakow"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Wonderful Book in the World
I have just finished reading Barchester Towers, and my only sadness is at finishing it. I read The Warden first, and Barchester Towers more than fulfilled my desire to live with... Read more
Published on May 5 2000 by Marjorie Myhill
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Wonderful Book in the World
I have just finished reading Barchester Towers, and my only sadness is at finishing it. I read The Warden first, and Barchester Towers more than fulfilled my desire to live with... Read more
Published on May 5 2000 by Marjorie Myhill
5.0 out of 5 stars Politics knows no boundaries
In this amazing novel Anthony Trollope continues his saga of clergymen of the Church of England in the little town of Barsetshire. Read more
Published on April 24 2000 by timothy k. Iverson
5.0 out of 5 stars The great Victorian comic novel?
"Barchester Towers" has proven to be the most popular novel Anthony Trollope ever wrote-despite the fact that most critics would rank higher his later work such as... Read more
Published on Dec 20 1999 by Austin Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars like a trip to 19th century England
I was chagrined by the introduction to the Everyman's. I don't think Trollope's writing was guided--even unconsciously--by Freudian analysis--referring to Dr. Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Immortal Trollope
Despite the criticisms levelled at Trollope for his "authorial intrusions" (see Henry James for example) this novel is always a pleasure to read. Read more
Published on July 8 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecclesiastical war in the cathedral town of Barchester.
Barchester is at war--a civil war within the church. The faction of new Bishop Proudie, under the thumb of his ambitious wife, who in turn is aided by the Bishop's chaplain,... Read more
Published on June 27 1998 by Leonard L. Wilson
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