Friday, May 01, 2015

Framley Parsonage

Well, I finally finished Framley Parsonage, fourth novel in the Anthony Trollope Barsetshire series.  I've been reading it all month, and I chose April to read it in because April 24 was the bicentennial of Trollope's birth.  I actually liked it very much until the ending.  My problem is that I found the final 20 pages to be unrelentingly tedious.

Trollope resolved the main story thread, that of Mark Robarts' financial difficulties and the romance between Lucy Robarts and Lord Ludovic, very nicely in chapter 46, "Lady Lofton's Request," but then he went on with two more seemingly endless chapters, neatly tying off and tucking in all the other loose story threads.  I think the other threads could've been dealt with in two pages, and if so, I would have come away from the book satisfied and happy.  As it is, all I can remember is how desperately boring I found the final stage of the book.

Perhaps I am more of a modern reader than I think I am, but I tend to like stories that aren't totally put to bed at the end.  And, in a series like this, the stories don't need to be completely resolved because we're presumably going to encounter some of the characters again in the subsequent novels.

Anyway, enough grousing.

I've blogged twice about the book before.
Characters you can relate to
First impressions

I found myself thinking about George Eliot's Middlemarch a good deal whilst reading Framley Parsonage.   Mark Robarts finds himself head over heels in debt, just as Dr. Lydgate does in Middlemarch.  The way they get into debt is much different and how their wives react couldn't be more different, but the moral and ethical dilemmas that both men face were similar.

I also couldn't help thinking about Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow when I read about Lady Lofton, and I kept on picturing Francesca Annis as she appeared as Lady Ludlow in the Cranford BBC series.

I recently heard that Julian Fellowes, who has blessed us with Downton Abbey, is going to be doing an adaptation of Dr. Thorne--the third novel in the series--and I hope that he makes it a double feature, and continues Dr. Thorne's story through to its logical conclusion in Framley Parsonage. My dear Dr. Thorne doesn't shown up in Framley Parsonage until the last third, but I enjoy his character so much that I did a little happy dance when he did make it on the scene.  I think there's quite enough material in these two books for at least a good six episodes of a mini-series.  And I don't think Fellowes could resist bringing Lucy Robarts to the screen--the only problem would be that she would steal the show from Mary Thorne, Dr. Thorne's niece, and the heroine of Dr. Thorne.

My prediction for who could play Miss Dunstable, one of my favorite characters in both books, is the incomparable Emma Thompson.

Framley Parsonage is part of my 2015 Back to the Classics challenge, filling the 19th century category.


  1. YES! Emma Thompson would be the ideal Miss Dunstable.

  2. Oh, Emma Thompson - yes! I have been trying to think who should play her, ever since I read about the new production. Just perfect!

    I have just started re-reading Doctor Thorne, and I am falling in love with him. This is only the second time I've read it, and I'd forgotten just how wonderful he is. And I can't quite remember the last two chapters of FP, but that's always been one of my favorite books.

  3. The news of the Doctor Thorne adaptation caused quite a bit of excitement this week! I've just started reading the book (and have yet to read Framley Parsonage), so just skimmed your post. Will make some casting wishes when I've finished.

  4. As you know I recently read this also.

    I only have vague memories of the end chapters though I do not remember them being tedious. I do remember thinking that the character of Lady Lofton was given some nice finishing touches that added to her complexity at the end.

    I agree that Emma Thompson would be perfect for Miss Dunstable.

    In my opinion you are in for a treat as you continue through the series as I think that the final two books are better then Dr. Thorne and Framley Parsonage.

  5. Great post! I still haven't started Doctor Thorne, so it will be a while before I get to Framley Parsonage. I really must read them soon - before Fellowes gets his adaptation finished at least.

  6. It's been so long since I read these, I can't comment in detail, except to say I always enjoy your reflections which strike the perfect balance between general impressions and specific praise (or complaint, often equally valuable). This Trollope anniversary makes me want to commit to reading him again--just vacillating between rereading one of the 6-pack series or trying one of the major stand alones for the first time.

  7. Argh - I hate, hate when an author feels the need to spend pages and pages tying things up. When the story's done, the story's done. On the plus, side, you found lots of ways that this book tied into your other readings and that's always good.