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The Vicar of Bullhampton (English Edition) Format Kindle
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It is worth the extra effort to meet the usual fine cast of Trollopian characters, including some well-wrought portraits of working-class folk, and all our favorite societal demarcations and foibles of the Victorian upper classes. But if you are willing to forego the pleasure of reading a period publication in favor of easy-to-read modern print, you will be better served by another edition of this excellent novel.
Country squire Harry Gilmore, owner of the remaining third of the parish, is the vicar's best friend and ally against the Marquess. He is in love with Mary Lowther, the vicar's house guest and Mrs. Fenwick's best friend. To the vicar and his wife, nothing could be more perfect than a marriage between their two friends, but Mary insists she can never marry Harry because she does not love him. She regrets disappointing the Fenwicks, but privately wonders if she will ever love any man enough to marry. This is before she gets to know her cousin Walter Marrable, a handsome soldier just returned from India.
Murders and murder trials figure in several Trollope novels, but this one may be the closest he ever came to writing a murder mystery. It begins with a murder and ends with a trial. Nothing focuses a community's attention like a brutal unsolved murder; everyone knows something of the victim or the suspects, and everyone has an opinion as to what really happened. Because of the prominence of the murder plot, the novel is as much about the village itself as about the individual characters. We get to know a lot about the Wiltshire village of Bullhampton, its topography, history, and sociology, as well as its relations with other villages and towns in the neighborhood. In this sense we are reminded of "The Last Chronicle of Barset" which also has a baffling mystery though no murder.
Mr. Fenwick is Trollope's favorite kind of clergyman: bold, impulsive, self-assured, and just a bit reckless. As usual there are plenty of other clergy characters, including two bachelor clerical uncles, the unassuming, practical, somewhat cynical Pastor John Marrable, who has a parish in a poor part of a nearby town, and the celebrated preacher and aesthete, the Reverend Henry Fitzackerley Chamberlaine, who lives "in clover" in his perfect house in the Salisbury close. Neither favors marriage as a way of life, for himself or, unless unavoidable, anyone else. We mustn't forget the Methodist minister Mr. Puddleham, the Marquess's toady and another of Mr. Fenwick's enemies, though Mr. Fenwick refuses to quarrel with any fellow clergyman.
Mary Lowther fits into a category of heroines that fascinated Trollope, the serious, thoughtful, deliberate young lady who almost loses her bearings when she must navigate her course between duty and love. His other heroine, Carry Brattle, the "fallen woman," is a much rarer type for Trollope, who was always careful to provide wholesome stories for younger readers. The plight of such women was always on his mind, however, since several similar characters make brief appearances in other novels, and his very first novel, "The Macdermots of Ballycloran," recounts the tragic fate of poor Feemy Macdermot. For Carry Brattle, however, he envisioned at least a partial redemption, and wrote a special preface explaining the importance of some degree of mercy for the weak. This may be the most moral of all Trollope novels, as the theme is entirely forgiveness, granted or denied.