Classic Lit: Barchester Towers, By E. M. Forster

4.0 out of 5 stars Much ado

Second in Trollope’s Barsetshire series, Barchester Towers concerns the family of the Reverend Septimus Harding, whom we first met in The Warden. The new bishop has arrived, accompanied by his domineering wife and her hand-picked clerical cohort, the hypocritical Obadiah Slope. A sharply satirical comedy of errors ensues, played out by a cast of memorable characters who struggle for power, position, love, and money. Trollope knew human nature, and he knew how to portray it in both its positive and negative aspects. Part of the appeal of Barchester Towers is that he is able to do so with relative gentleness, without preaching or obvious moralizing and with a large dollop of humor and understatement. I’m looking forward to the sequel, to find out what happens to the bishop’s virago of a wife.

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