Monday, March 11, 2013

The Warden

By Anthony Trollope

I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to get into Trollope as I had a vague idea that his work was overly sentimental, similar in style to a male Jane Austin perhaps. I asked Oleg if he'd ever read any of it, which he said he had, many years previously, and he remembered it as being 'interesting'. Fair enough, I did a Wikipedia search and ordered the first of the 'Barchester novels'. My brief research had left me with a new impression, that Trollope might bear some smiliarities with Mervyn Peake, but it quickly became apparent that this was not the case. Trollope is good, but he's no Peake!

At first, this novel started slowly and as I was already struggling with my various preconceptions, I almost gave up on it. Happily though, I kept at it and as the story unfolded I realised that there was a very good reason why Trollope has stood the test of time. 'The Warden' turned out to be a very interesting examination of contradicting human characters, and written with thankful brevity and entertaining wit. This certainly won't be the last Trollope I read, if I can help it.

The story is set in a fictious town called Barchester, where a local church warden's income comes under public scrutiny and debate. As the story unfolds, the warden finds himself ever more unhappy and eventually he must take matters in hand to preserve his own sense of contentment. It sounds pretty dire when described like that, but its actually worth reading if you like stories which place a strong emphasis on character. 

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