2011: 111. The Duke's Children

"No one, probably, ever felt himself to be more alone in the world than our old friend, the Duke of Omnium, when the Duchess had died."

The Duke's Children, Anthony Trollope

    Well, after five lengthy Victorian novels I have finally come to the end of the Palliser novels.*  This final novel takes place (as you can tell from the first sentence) after our friend Lady Glencora (the Duchess of Omnium) has died, and the book deals with how the Duke, Plantagenet Palliser (good old Planty Pal!) tries to cope with her loss - particularly in the issue of shepherding his three children into adulthood.  The Duke is a famous stick in the mud - a policy wonk before such things existed, who, if he had his druthers, would have spent his life working in the Exchequer, trying to push through his plan for decimal currency.  Instead, he was elevated to the House of Lords, forced to be the Prime Minister for the coalition government (this is all backstory, btw), and then, when he wasn't very good at that, retired.  Now he is a widower, adrift, disconnected from his children (that was Glencora's thing), and at a loss.  And how his children vex him! Falling in love with the wrong (read: not titled) people, running up debts, etc.

    It's a funny book, because our main character is a very conservative stick in the mud, with outdated principles (particularly for the American reader), and yet, we do sympathize with him (it helps that SPOILER he comes around to his children's wishes.  By which I mean, it doesn't end with his daughter coming to her senses and throwing over her commoner for a noble chap, but rather, with him coming to terms with the marriage).  I don't know if you'd enjoy it if you hadn't read the other books - you need to be pretty in the bag for the Duke of Omnium to really care.  But on the other hand, if you are Downton fan, there is a lot of scheming around about marriage (I didn't even mention Lady Mab!) which is always fun.  If you do like Downton, I'd recommend, actually reading The Eustace Diamonds, which was my favorite book in the series, by far (and one of my favorite books the year I read it, when ever that was).  If you like that, you might then start the series and give it a go.  If you do like that Dowton-y upstairs stuff, you'd like these, I think.  As for me, having done the political Paliser novels, I guess I'll turn to the church-Bartsetshire chronicle! I am a Trollope fan.

Categories:  Fiction

*N.B. - how irritating to have come to the end of the series at a time when I don't have my blog archives up and can't brag about all my hard work with links!  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017