‘What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee? Was ever anything so civil?’
Rating: 2 stars
Read: 12 September – 19 September, 2018
I’ve had my beady little eyes on Trollope’s The Warden for a while now, and it’s thanks to uni that I’ve finally picked it up. It’s a short novella, crammed full of wit and satire. It’s the story of a quiet cathedral town that is shaken by scandal as the traditional values of Septimus Harding are attacked by zealous reformers and ruthless newspapers. It’s is a drama of conscience that pits individual integrity against worldly ambition, or so says my Penguin English Library edition.
I must admit, I was a little disappointed by this one. I just assumed that I would love the Chronicles of Barsetshire, and that Trollope would be a writer that I grew to adore. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. I’ve heard that the later books are much better, so for that reason (twinned with
my love for Victorian literature) I will carry on with the series. I want to follow Eleanor through her life, because Trollope did her dirty, so I really hope she appears in the later books.
I thought it was a weak story with very flat characters. It lacked dimension, and the characters lacked emotion and individuality. Harding, the protagonist, was so passive; John Bold, who campaigns against Harding despite being in love with his daughter, was a push-over; and Eleanor was manipulative (also I really didn’t appreciate Trollope’s incestuous comment about her and her father – not cool). The only had one side to their personality, which could have been rectified if the novel was expanded a little.
I already mentioned that the plot was a little dry. I find religion fascinating – I mean, I studied it intensely at sixth form and even thought about doing it at university – but I just couldn’t with this. The constant warden/archdeacon/precentor talk got boring very fast. It was the story’s only plot. Not only that, but I didn’t find it funny at all. I’m not the best when it comes to humour, even more so in novels. It’s rare that I’ll crack a smile or let out a little laugh. I can appreciate what Trollope was doing, but he could have been more ruthless and engaging.
All-in-all, not my favourite read. I won’t, however, give up with Trollope or the Chronicles of Barsetshire (fingers crossed it will get better). I thought the conflict between Harding and Bold was very interesting, but wasn’t fleshed out enough. Trollope should have dedicated more time and space to making this a great first instalment. I feel if it wasn’t for university, I might not have finished this so soon.
Have you read any of Trollope? What’s your favourite novel by him? I’d love to discuss it with you!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X