Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope

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Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fourth book in the Pallister novels and second devoted to the Irish member is an excellent read with a good balance of politics, intrigue, drame, love - and, of course, a little hunting. Highly reccommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 786 Date: February 1983
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0192815897

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It's some time since we heard from Phineas Finn. Having succeeded in parliament and achieved a paying position he fell out with those who provided his income and returned to Ireland where he married Mary, his childhood sweetheart. He was fortunate to get a job in Cork (or Dublin - recollections may vary) and seemed settled into a life of domesticity. To bring Finn back, Trollope had to kill off poor Mary and Phineas emerges in London as a childless widower with a legacy from an aunt who died at just the right time to allow the move to be possible.

Phineas Redux feels as though it has no plot. A group of people have been brought together, allowed to mix and we're invited to see what happens to them. Fortunately, given the length of the novel, it's not just about politics: of the four political novels in this series, Phineas Redux has the most non-political incident. There's a delicate amalgam of love and intrigue (even detection) with just a dash of the hunting, which Trollope found so necessary. There's drama and some of the almost slapstick comedy which we encountered in Can You Forgive Her?. The drama was just a little over-the-top for me, at times, but - by and large - the mixture works well.

Phineas Finn is one of Trollope's strongest male characters, perhaps not up there with Plantagenet Palliser or as extreme as Josiah Crawley, but there's a rounded strength to him which shows itself off best in the court scenes - no, I'm not going to explain. You'll have to read the book for yourself. Unusually for a male author he has some strong female characters most of which reappear in this novel. Lady Laura Kennedy (formerly Standish and Finn's first love in London) is still separated from Robert Kennedy of Lough Linter and her emotional infidelity drives him to homicidal mania. I do wish that Trollope could have allowed Lady Laura a little more freedom as she sinks to being boring in Phineas Redux.

There's a glorious group of characters who will be familiar to readers from the earlier novels. You could read Phineas Redux as a stand-alone novel but I wouldn't advise it. You'll get so much more out of the book if you read the novels in order and avoid the spoilers which are rampant if the books are read out of order.

I'll confess that I didn't read the book: I listened to an unabridged audio download (which I bought myself) and which was narrated by Timothy West. I've listened to West's narration of the three earlier books in the series and found each to be superb. West's library of voices is extensive and I was never in any doubt as to who was speaking. His pacing is superb and I never felt that he intruded between Trollope and his readers. It's a splendid example of how audiobooks should be narrated.

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