Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope
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|Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The second book of the Pallister (or Parliamentary) novels, is superb and will put you in mind of 21-century politics. It's informative, engaging and a compelling and engaging read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 752/23h23m||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Audible Studios|
Phineas Finn is the son of Dr Malachi Finn, a successful doctor in Killaloe in County Clare, who sent his son to London to train as a lawyer. Phineas's interest is more in making influential friends than in becoming a lawyer and one of them, Barrington Erle, suggests that he runs for Parliament in the forthcoming election. His father is not entirely in favour of this as members are not remunerated and it would be up to him to provide financial support for his son as well as funding his election. One of the doctor's patients is Lord Tulla who controls the borough of Loughshane and by this stroke of luck, Finn is, eventually, elected by a small margin.
In London, Finn's closest friend is Lady Laura Standish, daughter of Lord Brentford, a Whig politician and whilst Lady Laura mentors Finn a relationship grows between them. Unfortunately, her own finances dictate that she cannot marry for love but must instead marry Robert Kennedy, a man whose extreme wealth is only matched by his dourness. Although initially devastated, Finn, still only in his mid-twenties, is not long in transferring his affections to the very wealthy Violet Effingham, which causes some problems as Lady Laura and her father both want Violet to marry (and bring to heel) Brentford's wayward son, Lord Chiltern. It's a situation that will soon progress to a duel on the sands at Blankenberg in Belgium.
I did wonder if I was going to enjoy what is essentially a book about British politics in the nineteenth century with, as the author said, perhaps a dash of sport, but I came fresh from listening to Can You Forgive Her?, which I had thoroughly enjoyed and the risk seemed minimal. This book is superb. If you want a picture of the state of Victorian politics, you need to look no further: the period of the story covers the implementation of a secret ballot, eliminating rotten boroughs and Irish tenant-right. If this sounds a little esoteric for you then you might be surprised by how reading this and considering the last few years in the 21-century parliament will lead you to think that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The characters are engaging too. Phineas Finn is a young man but over the five-or-so years we watch his life, you'll see him mature. You'll not always appreciate his changeability and indecision but you'll still wish him well. The women rise far above the usual Victorian vision of simpering maidens: Violet Effingham, particularly, would fare well in the 21st century.
I listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by Timothy West. It was exceptionally well done with good pacing and no sense that West was intruding between the author's story and the reader. He's my new favourite narrator! As soon as I finished listening to this book, I bought the next in the series.
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