Sunday, December 20, 2020

Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope

Trollope's Palliser series is turning out to be wonderful. I recently finished the second book in the series, Phineas Finn, and am sorely tempted to skip book three (The Eustace Diamonds) and launch right into book four, Phineas Redux, in January. I have it from reliable sources that there will be no continuity issues if I do this, and I really want to know what happens to beautiful, lucky, fickle Phineas.

Phineas is beautiful. Trollope makes it abundantly clear that Phineas is handsome and with a charming personality that makes him virtually irresistible, and this attractiveness in personality and person leads directly to his luck. Despite no fortune and respectable but not influential parents, he is plucked out of the crowd and given opportunities to rise and meet and mingle with the types of people who can further his career even more. Even when things go awry for Phineas, like a cat, he somehow lands on his feet, sometimes a bit shaken but he can lick his wounds, groom himself, and launch himself into the next of his nine lives.

If you think all this perfection makes Phileas's story dull, not so because he is deeply flawed in that he is fickle. I remember in Austen's Emma the narrator gently poking fun at Harriet Smith because she managed to be truly in love with no less than three men in the course of one year. Phineas, like Emma, is able to shift his devotion from one lady to the next with relative ease. Despite that fickleness, Phineas does show himself to be a true hero and does the right thing even though it hurts.

I do enjoy Trollope novels and Phineas Finn was one of the most enjoyable, chock full of entertaining characters, a fairly good story pace, and great settings (from Ireland to London to shooting parties to coaching inns). Apart from spending time with Phineas, it was also interesting to read about how Parliament works from the point of view of an absolute novice (i.e., Phineas) and the issues of the day (e.g., extending the vote and Ireland land laws) and how the politicians worked within and outside their parties. 

This is my 19th century classic for the 2020 Back to the Classics reading challenge.


  1. As you probably remember. I read the entire series a couple of years ago. It was brilliant.

    If I recall you can read Phineas Redux before The Eustice Diamonds but I thought that there there were a few points of continuity that would make reading the books in order more logical. I also recall loving The Eustice Diamonds.

  2. I liked Phineas Finn but I thought Phineas Redux was even better! I did read The Eustace Diamonds first, only because my library had an audiobook download. I got hooked on the story and read it really fast. I think those two were my favorites in the series. Either way you won't be disappointed.