Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. 0.00
Barchester Towers, published in 1857, is the second novel in Anthony Trollope's series known as the "Chronicles of Barsetshire". It is possibly Trollope's best known work. Among other things it satirizes the then raging antipathy in the Church of England between High Church and Evangelical adherents. Barchester Towers concerns the leading citizens of the imaginary cathedral city of Barchester. The much loved bishop having died, all expectations are that his son, Archdeacon Grantly, also a clergyman, will gain the office in his place. Instead, owing to the passage of the power of patronage to a new Prime Minister, a newcomer, the far more Evangelical Bishop Proudie, gains the see. His wife, Mrs Proudie, exercises an undue influence over the new bishop, making herself unpopular with right-thinking members of the clergy and their families. Her interference in the reappointment of the universally popular Mr Septimus Harding (protagonist of Trollope's earlier novel, The Warden) as warden of the hospital is not well received, even though she gives the position to a needy clergyman, Mr Quiverful, with fourteen children to support. Even less popular than Mrs Proudie is the bishop's newly appointed chaplain, the hypocritical and sycophantic Mr Obadiah Slope, who takes a fancy to Harding's wealthy widowed daughter, Eleanor Bold. Summoned by the local clergy to assist in the war against the Proudies and Mr Slope is another clergyman, the brilliant Mr Francis Arabin. Mr Arabin is a considerable scholar, fellow of Lazarus College at Oxford. A massive misunderstanding occurs between Eleanor and her father, brother-in-law, sister and Mr Arabin: that she might be entertaining thoughts of marrying the oily chaplain Mr Slope. Mr Arabin is genuinely attracted to Eleanor but the efforts of Archdeacon Grantly and his wife to stop her marrying Slope also interfere with any relationship that might develop. Finally, at the Ullathorne garden party, matters come to a head. Mr Slope proposes to Mrs Bold and is slapped for his presumption, Bertie proposes and is refused with good grace and the Signora has a chat with Mr Arabin. Mr Slope's double-dealings are now revealed and he is dismissed by Mrs Proudie and the Signora. The Signora drops a delicate word in several ears and with the removal of their misunderstanding Mr Arabin and Eleanor become engaged. The old Dean of the Cathedral having died it seems obvious that Mr Arabin should become the new Dean, with a beautiful house in the Close, 15 acres of garden and an income even greater than his wife's. With the help of Mr Harding and the archdeacon this arrangement is finally made. With the Stanhopes' return to Italy, life in the Cathedral Close returns to its previous quiet and settled ways and Mr Harding continues his life of gentleness and music.