Monday, 8 December 2014

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

Alice Vavasor  is young, of independent means and marriageable. In turns she becomes engaged to her cousin, George, who is ambitious and reckless; and John Grey, handsome and gentlamenly. However, Alice is struggling with the idea of tying herself down to either man.

Her cousin, Glencora, has been coerced into marrying the wealthy Plantageant  Palliser. Alice is determined that she will not be pushed into marriage simply because society dictates.

However, Alice struggles to forgive herself for vacillitating between the two men. How will Alice find happiness if she is so determined to go against the moral code of the day? Has she really been fair to either of these men? Questions that she asks herself and that Anthony Trollope asks the reader.

The best thing about reading this book is the knowledge that this is the first of five books in the Palliser series as I really loved it and am excited to get reading the second in the series, Phineas Finn. What I particularly like about this book is the way that Trollope speaks directly to the reader; posing questions and therefore, making the reader stop and think along the way. This is not a passive novel but one that the author encourages the reader to be a part of.

The characters in the book are wonderful and Trollope has drawn this cast in a way that makes all the characters completely believable. The wealthy widow, Mrs Greenhow, is an amusing character with whom the author clearly had fun with as he created her on the page. Glencora Palliser, who is excitable and in love with a man not her husband and Alice Vavosaur who is her own worst critic.

Mr Trollope also tackles some interesting themes of the period drawing on the fact that societal norms dictated that women would be married and mothers and roles outside of this sphere went against the moral code of the day.

This is a long novel and even though I was itching to get back to it at every possible opportunity it has still taken me a couple of weeks to get through. However, I think that it’s length is what enabled me to become so engrossed in the plot and engaged with the characters.

If you have not already read this book then I highly recommend it. It makes lovely entertaining reading and I am looking forward to continuing with this series in the New Year.

ISBN:   9780140430868

Publisher: Penguin Classics

About the Author: 

Anthony Trollope became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of Trollope's best-loved works, known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire; he also wrote penetrating novels on political, social, and gender issues and conflicts of his day.

Trollope has always been a popular novelist. Noted fans have included Sir Alec Guinness (who never travelled without a Trollope novel), former British Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir John Major, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, American novelists Sue Grafton and Dominick Dunne and soap opera writer Harding Lemay. Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century. (author information from

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