Having recently been made into a successful ITV programme, it was time to get stuck into the book – but is it a delight to read or does it come across as self-indulgent and pompous?
Anthony Trollope’s novel follows the story of Doctor Thorne and his niece Mary Thorne, focusing on love, money, class and family. Mary is in love with Frank, who is repeatedly told by his family to marry for money – but he stubbornly refuses to consider anyone but Mary as his wife. The trouble is, that no one knows Mary Thorne’s background – except Doctor Thorne, who could change everything for Mary and Frank.
While it is an amusing study of class, snobbery and money, Doctor Thorne presents a society filled with people who are self-absorbed and intensely dislikable (except for the main characters at the centre), making this a difficult book to really appreciate.
Trollope’s style of writing is also potentially distracting, making it clear exactly where he has created this situation and explains potentially what is going to happen, while flitting backwards and forward through situations that are relevant and those that aren’t to the main story.
There is no doubting that a lot of thought and detail went into the writing of this novel, with characters being fully rounded and the reader is able to get a full sense of why each individual is the way that they are. Nothing is left to chance.
It may take the reader a while to settle down and get into the heart of the story, with a lot of background information being given, some of it helpful such as the background to Doctor Thorne’s family and other elements not so important – such as the political element.
Doctor Thorne as a book might seem on the surface as self-indulgent and pompous, but underneath is a story which provides great and strong characters and laughs at the snobbishness of society and the upper classes, which could still be seen as relevant today, given how many ordinary people feel that those in a higher station in life are out of touch of what it means to be in Britain today.
So is it worth a read then? Well in one sense it is as it is a reminder on how money still plays an important part in how we view the world and the people in it, rather than our individual character and personality. But in another sense, it feels as though it gets overly complicated in places and leaves you wondering exactly what Doctor Thorne’s motives are for not telling Mary about her past and potential future sooner after the death of a particular character. Interesting and insightful but not one that leaves you caring about the characters.
Doctor Thorne is available to buy through Amazon.