THE LAST CHRONICLES OF BARSETSHIRE and MISS MACKENZIE - Anthony Trollope
The Last Chronicles a weighty book, just under 900 pages in the copy I read, and took about a week to read, whereas Miss MacKenzie, which I read on my Kindle (more on that later) was a day's reading. The former is the last book in the Barsetshire series, focusing on a stubborn, absent-minded minister who is threatened with loss of his priesthood and jail because he cannot account for his cashing a check made out to a local aristocrat. His stubbornness is manifested by his unwillingness to accept any of the help that might have quickly resolved the case in his favor. He is a curate to an impoverished parish, devout in worship and in pastoral attentions to his people. However, his pride makes him feel his poverty acutely. Of course, there is also an endangered engagement of pure young lovers and a variety of parsons and higher up clerics and wives of same, in particular, the wife of the bishop,who range from generous-hearted to the extreme of maliciousness.
Sometimes Trollope does go on too long or gets repetitive (he was writing it in installments for a magazine which may explain this), but nevertheless, I read on anxious to find out how he would resolve all the dilemmas. A footnote in my edition included a quote from Trollope's autobiography in which he tells of overhearing two men in his club criticizing the novel and especially exacerbated by the bishop's wife's power. Trollope decided to give the wife a fatal heart attack in the next installment, thus pleasing his readers and giving himself an easier path to a happy ending. (Library. Amazon)
Miss MacKenzie is a short novel of a woman in her thirties, who having spent her youth housekeeping for and then nursing her brother, inherits his fortune to the horror of her remaining brother and his wife. She pacifies them slightly by taking on the care of one of her nieces. In the course of her first year as a woman of substance, she is proposed to my three men and then the discovery is made that her fortune by rights never belonged to her brother but to her cousin, one of her suitors, whom she had turned down. How all this is resolved for the good is an interesting tale of love and integrity against the forces of greed. One point interesting to me was that faced with a return of poverty, she decides she will look for work as a nurse.It seems that women were more resourceful in finding occupations in the mid-19th century than I had been aware.
You can download this on a Kindle for free. For more on Kindle see next blog.