The Last Chronicle of Barset

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Last Chronicle of Barset 
by Anthony Trollope 
★★★ 

The final book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire is also the longest. It felt like the author had a hard time saying goodbye, so he just kept writing. I just can’t get over the fact that this book takes 1,000 pages to say what could have been said in 500 or so. The books main plot centers on Reverend Josiah Crawley who is accused of stealing a cheque. Honestly, this part of the plot barely held my interest, except in the role it played in another relationship. 

Major Grantly is in love with Grace Crawley, but because of the charges against her father, she refuses to marry him because she doesn’t want to dishonor his family. There is also the continuing love triangle between Lily Dale, Johnny Eames and Adolphus Crosbie, in the last book we saw Crosbie jilt Lily Dale. Then Lily turned down Johnny Eames out of some strange devotion to her undying love for Crosbie. 

I’m glad we returned to those characters because I was so dissatisfied with the ending of their story in the last book. I was thrilled when Lily decided she could never marry Crosbie, not matter what his situation was. At the same time her reasoning made no sense to me. She didn’t want to marry him because in sticking to her original decision he would love her more … what?!? Regardless, their story was still my favorite of this book. 

**SPOILERS
The book ends in the same way the series began, with Mr. Harding. As he grows older and then finally passes away at the end of the book, it is the end of an era in their small community. The beloved clergyman never knew just how much he meant to his parishioners. Mrs. Proudie on the other hand was a grating on the nerves of everyone she met. She dies at towards the end of the book too, finally freeing those around her from her overwhelming, forceful presence. 

**SPOILERS OVER**  

BOTTOM LINE: Like most of the books in this series, it took me a long time to get into it. The story takes a while to warm up, but once it does you find yourself caring about the people of Barsetshire and their problems. You definitely have to put in the time and effort at the beginning, but it is worth it. I’m glad I finished the series, but it didn’t end with a bang for me. 

This was a much bigger undertaking than I first expectedit would be. There’s was definitely a feeling of relief and accomplishment that came with finishing this final book.   

Now that I’ve made it through all six books in the Chronicles of Barsetshire I definitely understand why they are a staple the western literature canon. They are some of the first novels to embrace the minutia of small community life. Trollope captures an instantly recognizable world and many of the books that followed, like Middlemarch, would not have happened without this series. 

I struggled at times with the amount of detail Trollope goes into. I cared the most when I was able to connect with a character, some of whom will stick with me for years. My favorite parts were the quiet stories of strength or love. When a woman stood up for her beliefs or a man found love in his later years. 

Doctor Thorne was my favorite of the six novels and Framley Parsonage was a close second. Thanks to those of you who tackled this with me, especially Amanda for cohosting! Even if you made it through one of two books I hope you got something out of it! 

Please share your wrap up post with all of us at any time (even a year from now!) and tweet your thoughts at #Trollope2014.

Here’s a complete list of my reviews:
The Last Chronicle of Barset

Here's Behold the Stars' link to her final post! 

5 comments:

o said...

You did it! That was such a good read-along, again - thank you.

I think I had a hard time saying goodbye as well, which is why I appreciated this long novel - this and The Warden are my favourites, and Small House being my least favourite.

JoAnn said...

Congrats on finishing! I'm still kicking myself for not joining this project...

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

o - Thank you so much for reading along with me! This was such a fun project to tackle. I loved reading your thoughts on each of the books.

JoAnn - I've felt the same way about so many great readalongs I've missed! We'll just have to coordinate another one in 2015.

bibliophilica said...

My hat is off to you for completing such a towering project!

I've still only read two of "the chronicles," but if I had unlimited reading time I'd tackle more.

I may have recommended it here before, but after reading The Small House at Allington, I also read Trollope's autobiography, which is remarkably (for him) short, and I found it a very enjoyable read.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

bibliophilica - I may have to check that autobiography out. I'd love to learn more about the man behind the series!