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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tollope's fiction, where minimalism meets maximalism

No Trollope is no great stylist, he's just telling a good story in as straightforward a manner as he can - and it's easy to get carried along with his narrative. It's odd - in that he's a writer for those who want pared-down fiction - little to no description, few "interior" thoughts, a generally unobtrusive omniscient narrator - but he's anything but a minimalist as his novels are quite lengthy and, as with the one I'm reading now, Can You Forgive Her?, are often part of a (six-part) series. So far, in Can You, the three young people - Alice and her cousins, Kate and George - have traveled to Switzerland - Trollope quite pointedly states he's not going to bother describing their trip in detail as it's pretty much like any other journey - but Kate's "mission" has failed: she's trying to get Alice and George (back) together, as they are a former couple and Alice is now engaged to a drip and Kate is sure the marriage will be a disaster for both. Doesn't work - Alice remains stubbornly true to her fiance - even though she's very squirrely about when they'll get married - and George says, unconvincingly, that he's not interested in Alice in the least. Back to England - and Kate settling in for "the season" in Yarmouth with her wealthy but quite dull aunt. Lurking behind these narratives - the romantic, the need a young and impoverished women to play up to wealthy relatives (earlier versions of a persistent theme in Wharton - though with her American twist the wealthy are usually nouveau) - is the political strand: George was an unsuccessful candidate for Parliament, lost a lot of money in that quest, and there's a sense that he's not done with electoral politics and that political forces will drive this novel forward.

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