2016: 28. The Warden

"The Rev. Septimus Harding was, a few years since, a beneficed clergyman residing the cathedral town on —; let us call it Barchester."

The Warden, Anthony Trollope

After reading all that Thirkell, set in Trollope’s made up county of Barchester, I felt like maybe it was time to go back to the original source - particularly since I felt like I hadn’t read a serious work of fiction in like, forever (since O Pioneers, maybe?).  So I decided it was time to start Trollope’s Barchester series, which all concern clerical life in this made up county. I’ve already read the Palliser series, which are all about politics, while it gets a little inside baseball on the Parlimentary politics, I really enjoyed it - particularly The Eustace Diamonds, which was a totally soap opera-y novel hiding under a classic novel cover. 

So, The Warden is about Rev. Harding, who has a position as a Warden in a charity hospital, which has the mission, under the beneficiaries’ will,  of providing succor to 12 impoverished workers.  The remainder of the profits go to the living of the Warden.  So a local do-gooder decides that this is unfair - why should the Warden have a living of 800 pounds a year, while the men only get a few pounds? And he starts a big campaign against the Warden.  The church supports the arrangement as legal under the terms of the will, but the Warden worries about the morality of it all.

So, it’s also a bit inside baseball - there is a lot about church politics, and reform, and such.  But the version I had (Penguin Classics), has pretty good notes/introduction explaining it all, and once I got through and figured that out, I quite enjoyed this. It’s short, and remarkably easy to read considering how much church politics is in it.  The Warden himself is sweet, as he grapples with the difference between legally and morally right.  And, of course, he has a lovely daughter, who is in love with the rabble rouser, etc. which is fun.  Of course, I’m pre-disposed to like Trollope-y slice of England fiction, and I concede it’s not for everyone (the stuff about the satires of newspapers is pretty dull from a modern perspective, even if you have patience for it).  But I’ll probably, eventually read the next one in the series, because I do like these sort of slow books, and also, because all the last names re-appear in the Thirkell I’m unable to stop devouring.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017