Chronicles of Barsetshire

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Chronicles of Barsetshire

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apr 9, 2007, 7:58 pm

Firstly, thanks to almigwin for starting this group...!

Ok, to get the ball rolling here I'll ask a dumb newbie-type question (I'm reasonably new to Trollope, BTW) :P

Q. Is it necessary to read the books in the Barchester Series in the order that they were published?

I have read The Warden and am currently reading Barchester Towers. So, up next is Doctor Thorne, which I'm having trouble getting hold of, although I do have Framley Parsonage on back-order, which should arrive soon.

apr 9, 2007, 9:28 pm

The Last Chronicle of Barset should really be read last, but the others can be mixed up without much harm being done. i absolutely LOVE Dr. Thorne, and his romance with the heiress, but middle aged love may not appeal to you.
I would take a rest from Barsetshire, and read some of the ones that don't belong in a series like The Three Clerks, or The Way We Live Now, or Orley Farm. I think you can get pretty tired of the quiet in Barsetshire. The three clerks is about the struggles of young men trying to 'make it' in London; The way we Live Now is about social climbing and financial scams, and Orlely farm is about inheritance fights. (There are love affairs all over the place, but modestly described). They all should be available from your library. The way We Live Now was made into an English film with David Suchet playing the villain. If you can rent it, you might find it most enjoyable. By the way, all the Palliser novels have been filmed by the English, and they are fairly true to the books, if you are a film buff.

apr 9, 2007, 9:57 pm

Thanks for the advice, almigwin :)

apr 9, 2007, 10:21 pm

Just beware the clutches of Dr Fillgrave - even Sir Lambda Munu won't be able to help you then!

Redigeret: apr 10, 2007, 2:54 am

I'm going to disagree and say you should read the series in order. Why would you not?

BUT - if you'd like a hiatus, I recommend The Kellys and the O'Kellys. It starts awfully slowly - you have to plow (or plough) through a couple of chapters on Irish politics which were probably of high interest in their day but are of none now. You should just skim them, with no harm done to the rest of the story. The novel really does get rolling once we encounter the villain, and it has some of the sharpest dialogue I've yet encountered in Trollope. It reminded me of the best exchanges in Barchester Towers. Trollope had an extraordinary gift for dialogue - none of the flowery 19th century declamations that become excruciating. And he captures the flavor and snap of Irish repartee without descending into mockery.

Next to BT, I'd say Dr. Thorne was the best of the Barset series, followed by Framley Parsonage. The Small House at Allington was the hardest for me to get through, as I found Lily Dale tedious beyond belief and Eames not much better. Its only saving grace was the boarding house subplot with its wild mix of characters.

There is that wonderful BBC miniseries "Barchester Towers" out on DVD now - it has 7 episodes covering The Warden and BT with Donald Pleasance as Mr. Harding, Nigel Hawthorne as my hero Mr. Grantly, Susan Hampshire as Mme. Neroni, Geraldine McEwan perfectly cast as Mrs. Proudie, and Alan Rickman in his breakthrough role as Mr. Slope. There is also a little extra about Peterborough Cathedral, where the series was filmed.

apr 10, 2007, 4:06 pm

OMG!!! Alan Rickman as Mr. Slope. I'm in raptures!! I wonder if you can get dvd's in the US....

apr 10, 2007, 4:26 pm

Yes! The Barchester Chronicles are available for region 1 (US and Canada). There is also a box set together with THWLN and HKHWR.

apr 10, 2007, 6:42 pm

I got mine through, and it's also available through amazon. After I bought it I found it on Netflix as well, but I'm glad I own it. I'll watch it again.

apr 10, 2007, 7:07 pm

BTW: if your Latin is rusty or nonexistent, there's a site that not only translates all the Latin you'll run across in the Barset series, it has a chapter by chapter commentary on classics in the novels. Trollope was, as you probably know, a competent if self-taught Latinist.
So check out

apr 11, 2007, 12:59 pm

Thanks to you all, I'm going to dedicate my summer to Trollope. I've been meaning to re-read the first two Barset novels and finish off the series for years, and you've convinced me that now is the time. Expect posts from me as I work my way through them.

With a hiatus in there to read Deathly Hallows when it comes out, of course.

apr 11, 2007, 7:29 pm

Framley Parsonage (4th book) needs to be read before The Small House at Allington (5th) which both need to be read before Last Chronicle (6th). And Warden (1st) needs to be read before Barchester Towers (2nd), so yes, you do have to read them in order, and even more so for the Palliser series, as characters which show up in one show up later in the later books.

The only one you could skip and come back to later is Doctor Thorne.

apr 19, 2007, 12:22 am

I am pleased to announce that I have secured copies of both Doctor Thorne and Framley Parsonage, so these should keep me going for a while. I am still a little behind with Barchester Towers. Oooh and I also grabbed a copy of The Way We Live Now so I might take a little detour from Barset after Framley :)

apr 19, 2007, 3:42 am

Excellent! Please let us know what you think once you get to them!

Redigeret: apr 19, 2007, 5:15 am

I came to this group through lesezeichen's recommendation. ;-) May I join you without my owning a single Trollope? These books appear to me as so many mysteries. I really have to decide to jump into BT one day. Just one thing: #9 implies that Trollope includes Latin. Do you have to be fluent in Latin in order not to be lost? My Latin dates back to the 1960s, so it's pretty rusty...

Redigeret: apr 19, 2007, 5:28 am

#14 Pepys - my knowledge of Latin is almost non-existant, but it hasn't put me off Trollope so far :)

I am reading the Penguin Classics edition of BT and fortunately the appendix provides explanations of the Latin. There are also a few other resources around which may help - e.g. the Trollope's Apollo site has a Latin vocabulary list at and also some discussion at

apr 19, 2007, 6:19 pm

Welcome, Pepys! I adore the diaries. Like reading e-mail from the 17th century.

The Barsetshire series are a terrific intro to Trollope, but I also recommend The Kellys and The O'Kellys, my favorite of his Irish novels. Has a terrific villain and good pacing. DON'T start with the Palliser novels. We don't want you scared off ;-)

#14/15 www.trollope-apollo is indeed an excellent resource if you don't have an annotated BT edition. You don't really need to understand the Latin tags or classical allusions Trollope freely sprinkles throughout his work, but it does add to the reader's understanding and enjoyment.

apr 25, 2007, 11:38 pm

Has anyone tried the Barsetshire "sequels" by Angela Thirkell? A couple were fairly interesting, but others were too "modern" for me.

apr 26, 2007, 7:44 am

Seajack, I LOVE Angela Thirkell and her characters!

apr 26, 2007, 4:11 pm

Thanks for mentioning Angela! I was thinking of starting a thread. I periodically get into her Barsetshire novels, but they require much concentration to keep all the characters and subplots straight. Of course she's terribly misogynistic, snobbish and racist, but you can skim over those squirmy bits for the gossip and silliness.

There's a guide to her novels called "Going To Barsetshire" by Cynthia Snowdon. It's okay - could have used more family trees. It's quite helpful overall. Has lists of people, animals and places mentioned. Sections include public figures 1931-1960, synopses of relevant Anthony T. novels, a Barsetshire chronology, comments and notes, a chronology of Angela's life, a list of all her novels, and "suggested itineraries" for reading the particular novels that emphasize selected characters.

apr 26, 2007, 5:04 pm

I will definitely look for Going to Barsetshire.
I have been reading Angela Thirkell for quite a few years now, since I stumbled into Wild Strawberries quite by chance. I have also managed to acquire a few of her first editions (which, luckily, are quite affordable). I find her very entertaining, in spite of being snobbish etc.
Her books are, to me, what I would call "comfort reading", along with P.G.Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Van Reid (the only American of the four).

Redigeret: apr 29, 2007, 1:40 am

Wild Strawberries and The Brandons were pretty good. The others I tried I just couldn't get into.
I might consider throwing in E. F. Benson as well onto the "comfort reading" list.

apr 29, 2007, 12:33 pm

Oh yes! E. F. Benson too!!!!!!

aug 27, 2007, 3:31 am

I've just started The Small House at Allington, so far quite enjoyable... Meanwhile, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right still haven't made it near the top of my TBR pile yet :)

aug 27, 2007, 1:56 pm

>23 digifish_books: I enjoyed Small House most when that tiresome Lily Dale was offstage (offpage?). The boarding house scenes are priceless.

Struggled through the first third of TWWLN - it picks up later in the story.

> 20 I submit Barbara Pym for the comfort reading list.

aug 27, 2007, 2:09 pm

#24> I totally agree on Barbara Pym!

aug 31, 2007, 8:43 pm

I believe I read that Trollope himself found Lily Dale over-the-top, too!

sep 26, 2007, 12:33 am

Actually, I didn't find Lily Dale to be too irritating...maybe I missed something? (I didn't feel she was much of a 'heroine' type though). Overall, I thought The Small House was an excellent read.

Pym & Benson are both in my wishlist, however I really ought to get on with The Way We Live Now before I get side-tracked :)

sep 26, 2007, 2:55 am

> 27 You can get through Pym novels fairly quickly. TWWLN is going to be much more of a slog, although it picks up considerably in the last third or so.

sep 26, 2007, 8:19 pm

Don't forget the Barsetshire sequels by Angela Thirkell!

sep 26, 2007, 9:57 pm

Oh Seajack, thank you for mentioning one of my favourite authors!

sep 26, 2007, 10:11 pm

Three cheers for Angela Thirkell - strange but Anthony Trollope comes up when I try and get a touchstone for her!..I also really like Margery Sharpe. But back to AT - with few exceptions, aren't all her books based in Barsetshire in one way or another? My mom has them all, and is who I credit with introducing her to me.

sep 27, 2007, 8:59 am

SaintSunniva, there might be one or two - for example Coronation Summer - not based in Barsetshire.
I also like Margery Sharp, and just recently finished reading Britannia Mews, which I heartily recommend.

Redigeret: sep 27, 2007, 5:46 pm

>31 SaintSunniva:-32 According to Going to Barsetshire, Cynthia Snowden's guide to Angela Thirkell's B-novels, there are seven non-Barsetshire works:

Three Houses (1931)
Ankle Deep (1933)
Trooper to the Southern Cross (1934)
O, These Men, These Men! (1935)
The Grateful Sparrow (1935)
The Fortunes of Harriet (1936)
Coronation Summer (1937)

The earliest Barsetshire novel was High Rising (1933). After 1937, all the books were set in Barsetshire. There are 29 Barsetshire novels in all, ending with Three Score and Ten in 1961.

How fortunate we are that both ATs were so prolific!

sep 27, 2007, 5:59 pm

Aluvalibri and stringcat3, thanks for the AT clarification. How handy that their initials are the same, an obvious thing which I hadn't noticed!

My favorite Margery Sharp's are The Stone of Chastity and one whose title I can't remember, but it's about an English girl who goes to France, has a baby, and leaves the baby with its father and grandmother....

sep 27, 2007, 6:03 pm

> 34 Can't help you there. I've tried to read Margery Sharp (Britannia Mews and Miss Somethingorother) but just couldn't get into her.

sep 27, 2007, 10:41 pm

SaintSunniva, the book you are talking about is The nutmeg tree. I liked it a lot.

okt 13, 2007, 8:52 pm

stringcat3, I vaguely remember reading Coronation Summer and The Fortunes of Harriet and trying to think how they fit into Barsetshire. Thanks for straightening me out.
aluvalibri, thanks for remembering The Nutmeg Tree.
The whole scenario, of how the girl pretends love for the young man purely because he has an English-style bathtub, is so funny. So sharp.

jan 5, 2008, 7:49 pm

Trollope/Thirkell/Barsetshire sighting in today's NYT op/ed: Life, Love and the Pleasures of Life in Barsetshire.

Also, Phineas Finn was named as one of the top five novels about marriage in today's Wall St. Journal.

I think I'll start a "Trollope sighting" thread.

jan 5, 2008, 8:21 pm

The article isn't about Trollope, but Thirkell. And it doesn't make her novels sound attractive to me, but to each his own.

jan 6, 2008, 12:23 am

>39 littlegeek: Yes, yes, I KNOW it's about Thirkell. Trollope was mentioned in the piece as the inspiration for her Barsetshire novels, hence the "sighting." I mention it here because of the discussion in this thread about her Barsetshire "sequels," from 29 on.

jan 6, 2008, 12:42 pm

I am a long time fan of Angela Thirkell, whom I find amusing and entertaining, and not a bad writer at all.
I don't think she can be compared to Trollope but, at the same time, I believe nobody wants to compare her to Trollope! It would be like talking about chalk and cheese.
Thirkell's stories are always tongue in cheek, her characters often funny, clumsy, absentminded and always very human.

feb 2, 2008, 6:30 am

OK, back to the 'real thing'... :) I've commenced The Last Chronicle of Barset. Maybe I'm a bit tired today but I had to re-read parts of the first chapter about three times to work out which cheque and/or notes were paid to which person and by whom! I guess that's the intention, to cloak the whole thing in 'mystery'? ;)

feb 2, 2008, 6:05 pm

34: The Sharp you are thinking of is Martha in Paris. Great fun.

feb 5, 2008, 2:32 am

>42 digifish_books: I too found the whole cheque/note thing very convoluted - AT was going for both 'mystery' and 'confusion.'

Whole thing could have been cleared up with a quick cell phone call ;-)

feb 5, 2008, 3:02 am

>44 stringcat3: Indeed, or at the least the use of a receipt system! Money was changing hands but no-one seemed to issue a receipt!

p.s. Wow....Mrs Proudie is scary in this one!

feb 5, 2008, 5:18 pm

Last Chronicle is on my TBR...I really want to finish off the series. There's quite a few group reads that I haven't gotten around to, but who cares? I'm just really into Victorians lately.

feb 11, 2008, 3:43 am

>46 littlegeek: The Last Chronicle is great, and worthy of being pushed to the top of any TBR pile :) What other Victorian stuff are you reading these days, littlegeek?

feb 11, 2008, 2:28 pm

Recently finished Vanity Fair, which I LOVED and I recently bought a couple of Wilkie Collins books.

I've also got a few other Trollopes on my TBR after Last Chronicle. And who knows, I may get around to reading Romola and Mansfield Park one of these days.

feb 15, 2008, 8:50 pm

>48 littlegeek: Sounds great, I haven't ready any of those, yet...

Re: The Last Chronicle, be advised that Lily Dale is probably going to give you the irrits! Read it anyway & enjoy :D

feb 19, 2008, 2:20 pm

Im in the middle of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and it's awesome!!! I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Trollope.

feb 19, 2008, 4:37 pm

I finished The Last Chronicle. Pretty emotional ending and some surprises along the way.

I should've picked either another AT novel or The Moonstone, then, as my next read! Instead, I'm reading Sense and Sensibility and, without wanting to offend any Austenites here, I'm finding it pretty pallid.

feb 21, 2008, 12:19 am

I've had The Moonstone on my shelf for several years but haven't picked it up. I remember that back in the 70s there was a Masterpiece Theater adaptation of it, but I don't think they've ever rerun it. I do remember thinking Alistair Cook was if not Jove-like then at least a demi-god!

> 51 digifish, go rent the movie of Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet and (rrrrowww!) Alan Rickman. Anything but pallid.

feb 21, 2008, 1:00 am

>52 stringcat3: I've saw the S&S movie a while ago. It was definitely one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book.

I bought a boxed set of Austens last year. I read Persuasion right after The Way We Live Now and also struggled not to skim-read it. I think too much AT has made me fussy...

mar 7, 2008, 1:21 pm

OK, I finally just couldn't stand it any more and I started The Last Chronicle of Barset last night. I will be starting a new thread on it.

Oh, yay, I love Trollope!

mar 28, 2008, 7:33 pm

I just discovered that BBC 7 have been broadcasting the complete Barchester Chronicles in their regular drama slot at 11.00am each morning.

The series started on Monday 17th March so unfortunately I've missed the first episodes, but, for what it's worth here's a link to episodes (which are available for 6 days after they are aired). Scroll down to 11.00 'The Barchester Chronicles' and click on 'Listen Again'

jul 23, 2009, 2:18 am

BBC 7 is broadcasting the Barchester radio dramatisations again... :)