Don’t you just love it when you close a book after reading the final chapter and you just want to sit and smile? Everything turned out just perfectly, almost exactly as you would have wanted it. That basically sums up my experience with every Anthony Trollope book I’ve read.
I just finished my fifth Trollope novel and I’m so thrilled that he wrote as many as he did. If I space out my readings I should have a number of years of smiling as the last chapter is finished.
Framley Parsonage is the tenth book I completed in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge 2016. This book fits into the category of a Classic with a Place in the Title.
Framley Parsonage is the fourth of six novels in The Barsetshire Chronicles set in the fictitious county of Barsetshire, England. The novels revolve around the cathedral town of Barchester and the surrounding districts and as you might expect the clergy figure largely in the stories.
Mark Robarts is the young married Vicar of Framley, only 25 years old when the story begins, who resides with his young wife and two small children at Framley Parsonage. He is intent on rising in the world and the only way he knows how to accomplish this is to mix socially with prominent politicians and dukes and peers. The problem is that some of these men are not necessarily very scrupulous which leads to major consequences for him.
He had obtained a living at an age when other young clergymen are beginning to think of a curacy, and he had obtained such a living as middle-aged parsons in their dreams regard as a possible Paradise for their old years. Of course he thought that all these good things had been the results of his own peculiar merits. Of course he felt that he was different from other parsons — more fitted by nature for intimacy with great persons, more urbane, more polished, and more richly endowed with modern clerical well-to-do aptitudes. He was grateful to Lady Lufton for what she had done for him; but perhaps not as grateful as he should have been.
Lady Lufton of Framley Court was not only instrumental in securing the position of vicar for him but she also is responsible for introducing him to his wife. Needless to say, she is a person of influence in his life. And while she supports him in many ways she is totally opposed to some of the people he associates with and doesn’t hesitate to make her opinions known. In short, Lady Lufton is a force to be reckoned with.
There are several love stories scattered throughout the novel; some more prominent than others. The love story with the most detail is between Lucy Robarts, younger sister of Mark, and Lord Ludovic Lufton, the only son of Lady Lufton. Lucy moves to Framley Parsonage, after the death of her father, and before long Lord Lufton is in love with her. But when he announces to his mother that Lucy is the woman for him she is not happy with his choice. To her, Lucy is “insignificant” and certainly not good enough to become Lady Lufton. That’s all I will say on that little side story.
A number of characters from previous novels make their way onto the pages of this book and what a delight it is to meet them again. Dr. Thorne, Miss Dunstable, Eleanor Arabins and her father Mr. Harding, Archdeacon Grantly and his wife, Frank and Mary Gresham (Dr. Thorne’s niece) and of course Bishop and Mrs. Proudie. It was so fun meeting them again and seeing them all together! Running into Mr. Harding again in the pages of Framley Parsonage made me want to go back and reread The Warden, the book where I first met him. He is, so far, my favorite Trollope character, although there are half a dozen or so that assume second place!
Anthony Trollope is as sarcastic as ever, making fun of those who deserve it, but always showing that even the villain has something good about him (or her). As usual for Trollope he lets us in on little secrets along the way, as well as offering the reader his opinion about so and so’s actions or some event. Absolutely delightful!
For the most part I was confident how everything would work out, who would land where and why, and who would end up with who. Anthony Trollop gives many hints along the way as to what is coming. But that in no way made the novel less of a page turner.
For anyone who has read any of my previous Trollope reviews, (The Warden, Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne, The Way We Live Now) you know how much I love this author. If you’ve not read any of his novels you are missing out on great fun. These are books guaranteed to bring a smile and even a laugh, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be looking for someone to read a passage to.