New pictures in my photoblog.

There are three British novelists I really admire: Iris Murdoch, Jeffrey Archer and Anthony Trollope. I started reading Archer during my high school years (1992-1996). Kane and Abel and Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less are my favourite books of his. I became an avid reader of Murdoch in 2002. I personally liked The Black Prince and Nuns and Soldiers. Last year, while searching free e-books authored by D.H. Lawrence (Sons and Lovers), I ‘discovered’ Anthony Trollope.

There was no boring moment throughout the campaign period because I always have a Trollope novel in my bag. I found time to read while waiting for delayed flights at airport terminals, lunch breaks during motorcades and every evening before I sleep. My wife once complained that I spent more time reading a Trollope novel during the Holy Week break than doing my household chores.

I could not find a Trollope novel in bookstores but many websites offer free downloads. Fortunately, my five-year old Sony Clie is still reliable.

Last week, I finished the 6th and last novel of the Chronicles of Barsetshire, Trollope’s most famous work. I enjoyed every book of the series: The Warden, Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne, Framley Parsonage, Small House of Allington (my personal favourite) and the Last Chronicles of Barset.

Trollope’s depiction of rural clerical life is very amusing. In every novel, Trollope succeeded in sustaining the readers’ interest through colourful and incisive narration of country politics, clerical affairs, British elections, elite social life and media bias. The main characters of the novels imbibe the folly and strength of human nature. Readers will stumble upon characters who are pious, vengeful, meek, vicious and holy. I was transported to the imaginary world of Barchester where chivalrous love was still a dominant ethic.

Trollope’s novels reflect 19th century British life. How do young people make love during that time? How much is the salary of civil servants? How do country squires behave? What are the common duties of vicars, bishops, archdeacons and other clergymen? What is the extent of wealth and influence of the Church? How do newspapers affect or distort ecclesiastical and political affairs?

For me, the most memorable part of the series is the saga of John Eames and Lily Dale. In particular, the unrequited love of John for Lily. Despite being honourable, heroic and pleasant, John could not persuade his childhood friend, Lily, to marry him. Every year, John renews his offer of marriage to Lily to prove his earnestness but our heroine could not learn to love John as her husband. Lily defied the pleading of family and friends to marry John since she continues to think of a man who once jilted her. After some years, John finally decided that he shall no more ask Lily to be his wife. Lily, in honor of John, has vowed to be an old maid. John’s constancy and Lily’s obstinacy produced a sad romance and a sweet story of genuine friendship. That Lily never became Mrs. Lily Eames contributed to the allure of Trollope’s novel. Maybe John is still contemplating of getting Lily’s approval in the future. Perhaps Lily will finally agree to marry John. We will never know. We can only use our imagination to surmise their fates.

Yesterday, I started reading the first book (Can you forgive her?) of Trollope’s Palliser novels. Is it a better series than the Chronicles of Barsetshire? I will tell you soon.

(A reader inquired the non-fiction books I’m reading today. I just finished a book written by Marxist geographer and social scientist David Harvey on the uneven geographical development of capitalism. I’m now reading A Brief History of Neoliberalism, also by the same author).

Related entries:

Once upon a time
Da Vinci code
Inventing a hero


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