Tuesday, August 4, 2015

146. He Knew He Was Right

He Knew He Was Right
Anthony Trollope
Around 930 pages

Of course, we know I am going to complain about this novel being way too long.  How could I not?  930 pages for a plot that I will be soon be summing up in two sentences is just ridiculous.  However, I am still a bit sad that I'm done with this novel.  I will miss reading chapters that have titles like "Hugh Stanbury smokes a pipe," "Shewing what Nora Rowley thought about carriages," and finally, because the first one was such a cliffhanger, "Hugh Stanbury smokes another pipe."

All right, I promised you a one sentence summary so here we go:  Louis Trevelyan believes that one of his wife's oldest friends, Colonel Osbourne, is a "rogue"and doesn't believe that his wife Emily should see him anymore.  Emily feels accused by this and does not comply, leading Louis feeling so emasculated that he starts to lose his mind.  Of course, since this is Anthony Trollope, there are quite a few subplots as well that I thought were a lot more interesting than the main one.  My favorite was the story of the courtship between Mr. Gibson and the French daughters.  He can't really decide which one he likes best and they don't take it very well.  No spoilers, but one of them ends up with a carving knife.

From the premise, you can tell that parts of this novel are going to be extremely frustrating for feminist readers.  There is a feminist character in this book, Wallachia Petrie, who is treated like a maniacal leper.  I found the other female characters, however, to be quite empowering.  I guess they are just not allowed to talk about their own empowerment or they would become "unmarriageable shrews" like Wallachia.  Still, the women in this novel refuse to let their lives be dictated for them, even if it means being miserable.  The women are still at the mercy of the whims of ridiculous, foolish men but at least Trollope is pointing out the absurdity of it.

Like I said, the main storyline didn't really grab me.  Sure, I wanted to strangle Louis (who wouldn't?) but I was mostly sick of the two main characters' whining.  Funnily enough, I think the secondary characters were pretty sick of it too.  Let's just bump the French sisters up to top billing and call it a day.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Anthony Trollope thought that this work was a failure.  He thought that Louis Trevelyan was "unsympathetic" and the secondary characters were more interesting.  Hey, that's what I thought too!  Anthony and I are tight.

This is the first part of the BBC adaptation from YouTube.  Is there a single English novel that has not been adapted in a BBC miniseries?

UP NEXT: King Lear of the Steppes by Ivan Turgenev.  This should be cheerful.

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