The Complete Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope
|The Complete Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A dramatisation of the six Barsetshire novels. They're much abridged, so probably not one for the purist but they make excellent entertainment.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: Time:18h46m||Date: March 2008|
|Publisher: BBC Worldwide Ltd|
When I told my daughter that I didn't know what to listen to now that I'd finished The Complete Novels of Jane Austen for the second time on the trot she had the perfect answer: The Barchester Chronicles and they were in my inbox in a matter of minutes. They're not quite as well known as the Austen books but they're an excellent follow on.
The first point to make is that this is a dramatisation of the novels and when it says on Amazon that it's 'unabridged' it means that the dramatisation is unabridged rather than the novels. When you read the novels you'll find a great deal of internal monologue which wouldn't sit well in a radio play, but if you're OK with getting a 'flavour' of the books then you're in for a treat. You can judge the extent to which the novels have been abridged quite easily. The six Trollope novels in written form are about 30% longer than the six Austen novels, which suggests that the unabridged audio would be about 97 hours rather than the 18 hours 46 minutes of the dramatisation. It's probably not one for the purist but it's value if you're looking for an enjoyable story.
The six books are The Warden, Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne, Framley Parsonage, The Small House at Allington and The Last Chronicle of Barset. The Warden was published in 1855. The first of the Austen novels - Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, so there's almost half a century's gap between the two writers but both deliver a gentle satire on life at the time with an element of romance.
The characterisation is superb even if some of the attitudes seem rather strange in the twenty-first century. Who can forget the almost too honourable but rather naive Septimus Harding, the titular warden? Lily Dale from The Small House at Allington is too constant to the lover who let her down. When the Rev Josiah Crawley is accused of theft his daughter feels that she cannot hope to marry until such time as her father's name is cleared for fear of bringing shame to the family of the man she loves. Mrs Proudie, the bishop's wife, is a thread which runs through the books and she's a monster - and you find them in any period of history.
The cast includes Anna Massey, Alex Jennings, David Haig, Rosemary Leach, Kenneth Cranham, Emma Fielding and Brenda Blethyn. I have heard Brenda Blethyn described as annoying in the series but I didn't find this to be the case.
The dramatisation has tempted me to go back to the books: I'm looking forward to it.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Complete Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope at Amazon.com.
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