Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mount TBR #35

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2017. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

Rachel Ray – Anthony Trollope

A light fairy tale like this novel is the choice to take on summer vacation, laze on a deck, in the shade, and delight in.

Our titular heroine lives with her widowed mother and older sister. Mrs. Ray is timid but good-natured. Sis, a.k.a. the widow Mrs. Prime, is a dour bible-thumper put out when others seem to be enjoying life. The trio lives in a humble cottage in Bragg’s End, where reasons for boasting peter out. Mrs. Ray is tyrannized by Mrs. Prime, but Rachel holds off Sis’ efforts to get to toe the evangelical line.

Comely - of course - Rachel attracts the attention of Luke Rowan. He has inherited a share in a local brewery that makes a little profit though its product “isn’t worth swallowing” and thus can’t compete with the local hard cider (strange how things come back, considering the growing popularity of cider in our day). Mrs. Prime mistrusts Luke’s character, and does not hesitate to share her concerns with her easily-alarmed mother. Mrs. Ray talks to her pastor, the misnamed Mr. Comfort. He vouches for Rowan’s motives at first but unfounded rumors undermine Luke’s reputation. Mr. Comfort then advises Mrs. Ray to squelch the engagement between Rachel and Rowan. O, trouble, indeed.

Trollope also includes a serio-comic courtship between Mrs. Prime and her pastor, Samuel Prong. Prong is as fanatical as narrow-minded as she. But conflict ensues because his ideas on wifely submission to husbandly authority include his control over her income from her first husband's estate. Stand-out pieces include the planning and execution of Mrs. Tappitt’s ball and the conversations between Mr. and Mrs. Tappitt. Luke is not nearly the fatuous overly confident young person as the clerks in The Three Clerks, Harry Clavering in The Claverings, or the naïve lame suitors (Arabin, Eames, etc.) in the Barsetshire chronicles.

This was written in 1863 between Framley Parsonage (1861) and The Small House at Allington (1864).  This novel is an example of what George Eliot was talking about when she wrote Trollope of his novels, “They are like pleasant public gardens, where people go for amusement and, whether they think of it or not, get health as well.” If you in the mood for English-style "nice" this is the ticket

Click on the title below to go to my review of other Trollope novels.

The Warden  (1855)
Dr. Thorne (1858)
Orley Farm (1862)
He Knew He Was Right (1869)

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