Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope

Finishing The Last Chronicle of Barset is really the end of a reading era for me. The entire Barset series consists of six books, and I've read every one. Not consecutively, obviously, but over the course of seven to eight years.

This series epitomizes my favorite genre of literature, where the excitement is in the daily lives of the characters - personality clashes, scandalous gossip, etc. Where the women and men primarily worry about property, money, and family. Where everything seems to happen in a muted melodrama, heavily-laden in dialogue with paragraphs of description that can be more than a page long. I realize how boring this might sound to most of you, but it's my literary sweet spot, and having this series to satisfy my Brit Lit craving has been wonderful.

This book is a tome - 861 pages of poor Mr. Crawley being accused of stealing a check (for hardly any money) and all the repercussions both of being poor and being a member of the clergy accused of a crime. It affects his family, his income, and it's all the people of the county and talk about. The incident though shows us what these characters are really made of - who's kind, who's cruel, who's lack of action is just disappointing, and it's really a fitting way to say good-bye to characters we've followed through so many pages.

Of course, no book from this era (1867) is complete without taking about love and this book has it all - lovers held back by outside forces, unrequited love, loving the one you're with, and love to ensure stability. There's also the steadfast love of Mrs. Crawley who stands by her accused husband through his whole ordeal, doing her best to support him. It's an incredibly busy story although not much action happens.

I could probably talk about this intricate fictional town for a long time. For me, so much has happened between the pages of this series, especially in this last book that it's too much to recap, but it's really not the plot that makes this, and other 19th Century books, so wonderful. it's the depth. The depth into the lives of regular people where what's going on may not really matter to us, but it matters to them. Instead of being all about the action or contriving extreme situations to force the characters through, Trollope is about the people and how they experience their unique versions of a regular life, and I absolutely love it.

I previously reviewed the rest of the books in this series. Click here if you'd like to take a look.