My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mark Robarts, the vicar at Framley Parsonage, has a seemingly perfect life. He has the patronage of the great Lady Lufton, and the friendship of her son, Lord Lufton. He has a darling wife, Fanny, and lovely children, and everything a man could want on a moderate income.
But Mark becomes involved with the “wrong” sort of people, gamblers, debtors, and disreputable gentlemen of society. Mark’s kindness is taken advantage of, and his generosity lands him in a difficult money situation, which will be his ruin unless his high moral standards can eventually be his salvation.
When Mark’s sister, Lucy, comes to stay with his family, she has difficulty fitting into her new surroundings, until she meets a new friend and makes a romantic connection. Her own high moral standards are tested when she must set aside her own deepest wishes and suffer the consequences of doing what she believes to be right.
As always, Trollope includes a lot of satirical commentary on politics, both ecclesiastical and national; and that part was boring and could have been edited out. I’m sure it’s very witty and wise, but I just want the meat of the story, not the political frills.
I thought Mark’s character was masterfully written, because he’s both proud and humble, intelligent and sometimes idiotic, generous and in some things selfish, and always very human. A well-balanced and well-written character, and I was cheering for him the whole way!
Lucy is another wonderful character with a lot of depth to her sensitive nature. She doesn’t react in situations as you might expect the “Victorian heroine” to do. She doesn’t exclaim, and burst into tears, or faint from astonishment. She is serious and reserved, but feels things deeply. She speaks eloquently sometimes, and other times is so overwhelmed with emotion that she cannot speak at all. I was very intrigued and impressed with her character, and I identified with her a lot.
The plot, other than the politics, is interesting and engaging. The supporting characters, especially the Grantleys and Crawleys, are varied and they feel like they are drawn from real life. There is a lot of great humor in the writing, and I laughed out loud more than once!
Another masterpiece in the Barsetshire novels, and I can’t wait to read the rest of them!