Anthony Trollope is one of my favourite novelists but I have to admit that I don’t always finish his novels. While I’m reading them I really enjoy them but some of them are quite long. Somehow it doesn’t matter that I don’t finish them because it’s usually obvious what’s going to happen. He also tends to repeat things quite a bit so the chances are that, in bailing out early, you’re not missing as much as you might think. In fact that’s one of the things I like about Trollope; he never assumes you can remember who everyone is or what their goals in life are. He likes to remind you often. They always have a goal. That’s another good thing. You can learn from these characters. They have a goal and they set about achieving it. We should all do that really, shouldn’t we? That would stop us from moaning in our blogs about how useless we are. Frank Gresham’s plan, for example, is to marry money. Not that he wants to, but everyone tells him he must. Frank must marry money otherwise he will be ruined. The woman he falls in love with, Mary Thorne, doesn’t have any. She loves Frank truly and deeply so her goal is to avoid marrying him at all costs.
Dr Thorne is Mary’s uncle. He knows something that Frank and Mary don’t know but which could make a vital difference to their lives. His goal is not to disclose it, because that could create false hope. But he’s a kind man and he also wants Mary to be happy; making sure she can be is another of his goals.
I actually made it to the end of Dr. Thorne and I was very pleased with myself. Everything turned out nicely and I had no reason to complain — about Frank or Mary or Dr. Thorne or my own fickleness.
I must confess, though, that I didn’t actually read the novel. I had it read to me by Timothy West. He did a great job, as he always does, and he even made me laugh out loud a few times. I don’t mean LOL, I mean really laugh out loud.
I have sort of met Timothy West. We were at the cinema together and he had a little drink in the pub next door with his wife, Prunella Scales. All right, I didn’t really meet him, but only because I kept my distance out of respect. I could have met him. Anyway, he is a brilliant actor and Trollope is a brilliant novelist. What a combination they make!