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Can You Forgive Her?
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Can You Forgive Her? (Palliser #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  3,606 ratings  ·  301 reviews
Alice Vavasor, a girl of independent spirit and means, is engaged to the paragon John Grey but, seemingly distressed by his perfection, she jilts him in favour of her less reputable cousin, George. Alice's story is interwoven with that of the early married life of her friend, Lady Glencora.
Paperback, 928 pages
Published September 16th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1865)
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Buck
George Costanza excepted, I know less about women than anyone in the world, but I’d imagine that even liberated, post-feminist women could relate to the three feisty chicks at the centre of Can You Forgive Her? Pushed willy-nilly onto the marriage market, these wealthy Victorian ladies are faced with that eternal dilemma: how come all the hot, interesting guys are total dicks, and all the nice, bankable ones are kind of…blah? I’m vulgarizing shamelessly, but in fact each of these characters has ...more
Greg
Can you Forgive Her? is the story of a young woman who is engaged to be married to a very respectable gentleman. She has some doubts and starts to wonder if she should have been with the less than respectable paramour of her younger days. Along with a few other intermingling story lines, 800 pages later the little love story is wrapped up and the reader is asked to answer the titular question.

Before you dismiss the plot as drivel that no one would be interested in reading 800 pages think that P
...more
Mary Ronan Drew
All Trollope aficionados are periodically asked The Big Question: Which of Trollope's books should a newcomer read first? Even with 47 novels to choose from it's difficult to answer that question. I think you have to have read all of Trollope and be re-reading him before you truly appreciate his books. But of course you have to start somewhere.

Can You Forgive Her? should be the place to start. It has everything that makes Trollope so beloved. There's a love story in which a young woman has to ch
...more
Paul
This is an excellent, if long, read. Trollope tells a good story and I think his female characters are stronger, better developed and more believeable than any other male Victorian novelist. He is still conventional (apart from the novel Marion Fay perhaps) but he has a strong empathy with his female characters and they tend to be better drawn and have more depth than his male characters.
The novel revolves around the romantic adventures of three women; Alice Vavasor, her cousin Kate and Lady Gl
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B0nnie
Can You Forgive Her?

The author addresses us directly before we even begin reading. Forgive whom and for what? There is an unspoken suggestion in the question that you ought to forgive her. I've always been vaguely intrigued by the title of this novel. Why did I wait so long to read it? It's delightful, a sort of cross between Dickens and Jane Austen.

There's an Alice Munro story called "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage". It could be the title of this book too. Or a plot outlin
...more
Rebecca
This is the second Trollope book I read, after a one-off of the Barset books, and I was astounded. I was 35 years old, newly married and with a child on the way, and the question, what must a woman do with her life was so pertinent. I was stunned at how Alice's questions of how she could act in the world and satisfy herself were so fresh. Today we have many more opportunities, but frankly, when you choose to be a wife and mother, and to make that your priority, you are left, today, with the same ...more
Chris
The one thing that Trollope has over Dickens, and it is a huge thing, is that Trollope writes believable, sympathetic, intelligent women. Trollope cares more about women than Dickens ever did. While Dickens focuses on the major social crusades, Trollope spends time on how society can affect individuals in marriage. Here is, he is examining how a arranged marriage would affect the parties involved, especially the woman. Trollope's focus on the upper class or the more education is no less importa ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I'm probably being generous with the stars, but I hit a point where I couldn't put it down - must be worth something.

Trollope's dialogue is rather stiff and formal and his prose isn't as good as Dickens, for instance, but his characterizations are ever so much better. Dickens might give you one or two fully fleshed characters and the rest caricatures. Some of you might quibble that Trollope does more telling than showing, but I think there is both. Sometimes he can help you to see two character
...more
Laurel Hicks
I'm planning to read all of Trollope's Palliser series in 2010 and decided to get a headstart with the first book. I finished today. What a wonderful read! It amazes me how Trollope can weave the stories of so many delightful and terrible people together and make most of them turn out well in the end. Now I can enjoy some of these characters for five more books.

Here are the books in Trollope's Palliser series:
1. Can You Forgive Her?
2. Phineas Finn
3. The Eustace Diamonds
4. Phineas Redux
5. The Pri
...more
Jim
There are few writers whom whom I am so comfortable as Anthony Trollope: I can read and re-read his novels, and each reading makes me just admire him the more. Can You Forgive Her? is the first of the six Palliser novels dealing with parliamentary politics. And yet it is about far more. On one hand, it is about a wealthy and powerful young couple whose marriage is in danger -- because the wife, Lady Glencora Palliser, wants to run away from her politically absorbed husband Plantagenet, who is so ...more
Vanessa Wu
I recommend the Kindle version of this for two reasons.

1. It's free.

2. You won't realise how long it is until you start reading, after which it won't matter because you'll be hooked. Although the little percent sign at the bottom of the page will stay in demoralisingly low single figures for so long that you might think your device is broken.

There's a third reason for recommending it. It's awesome!

It's not erotic but, on the other hand, it's hardly decent. At least, it doesn't seem decent to me
...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
I mentioned on my Ana the Imp blog that I decided that this year was to be my Trollope period; that I was determined to chase this eminent Victorian down the highways of his fictions. Church or politics was to be the point of departure; the Chronicles of Barsetshire or the Palliser series. In the end politics and Palliser won out!

I’ve now vaulted my first fence, just having finished – literally some twenty minutes ago – Can You Forgive Her?, the first of the six Palliser tomes. That word, the w
...more
David
This is a long, long book, and the first in the Palliser series, though I understand that they mostly stand alone so you don't really have to read them in order. It centers around three women: one married, one single, and one widowed, and for each of them, the central question is the same - do I go with Mr. Dull and Dependable or do I go with Mr. Good Looks Who Will Spend All My Money and Ruin Me?

It might have been a more exciting book if Trollope was a more radical author, but I'm not spoiling
...more
Denise
Thank you, Kath, for pushing Trollope on me; I now understand what a fantastic writer he was. If you want character development, he's your man. It took me just over three weeks to get this monster read, but it was very easy. You get to know what makes the characters tick, and they become real. I'm not sure I've experienced that feeling to this degree before, but it makes a world of difference in the reading. Alice, the main character, was the only one that remained a complete mystery- not becaus ...more
Caroline
Can we believe him?

Anthony Trollope was without a doubt a man of his times. How could he not have been? He served his country with dedication, putting his mind to the problems of the postal service from ten to four , after he had scribbled for a few hours on his daily quota of Barsets and Pallisers, Burgos and Dumbellos. He dined with the who’s who of English literary life. He relished the hunt. He wrote book upon book with heroes and heroines who wake up and go to bed with all their friends and
...more
Gemma
Oct 15, 2008 Gemma rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
Oh my word, this book is amazing. Even the boring hunting sections are made endlessly amusing by the presence of characters with names such as Burgo Fitzgerald. And then there is Lady Glencora M'Cluskie. And Plantagenet Palliser.

I love that I am reading a massive gossip novel, but that it looks so serious. Oh dear, vanity....
Sarah
I became immersed in Trollope's writing as I read this book. Alice Vavasor struggles to decide whether to marry her cousin, the ambitious George Vavasor or the gentlemanly John Grey. I urged her to make the right decisions as Trollope made the reader more aware than Alice. Other strands in the novel include Kate Vavasor, who is George's sister, Lady Glencora Palliser, recently married to Plantagenet Palliser who is a rising politician and Aunt Greenow, a wealthy widow. Trollope manages to weave ...more
Jane
I am so pleased to say that I have finally discovered why so many readers love Anthony Trollope. In fact, if it isn’t wrong to say so after reading just the one book, I am now one of them. I’d picked up one or two books over the years and they hadn’t quite worked. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them but I didn’t love them, they weren’t the right books; I had to find the right place to start, the right book at the right time at the right time, and this book was that book.

I found that I loved the wa
...more
Justin Evans
I put off reading this for a long time because I unforgivably confused CYFH? with 'He Knew He Was Right', the mini-series version of which was utterly horrible. I knew they were different, but something just held me back. I even read Phineas Finn before this, which was a real mistake.

CYFH? does what really, really great literature does: asks very difficult questions about life, but in such a way that you don't realize they're being asked, because the thing is just so entertaining. The question,
...more
David
This is the first in Trollope's Palliser series of novels (called by others the Political novels, and by still others the Parliamentary novels). It's the poorest of the series. As with the Barsetshire novels, I don't think Trollope really gets going until the second novel in the series.

Trollope's titular query to his reader is directed to the conduct of the heroine, Alice Vavasor. Delicate readers may want to avert their eyes; I am going to reveal Alice's sin in the next sentence. She broke off
...more
Peter
Anthony Trollpe's Can You Forgive Her is a massive and sprawling novel, and yet it folds very cleanly and neatly in a repeating pattern.
Each of the three main female characters present the dilemma of how a woman charts a course and navigates through the minefields of Victorian propriety and social expectation to find love, or, at least, contentment.

First, there is the widow Bellfield who is pursued by a pompous landowner and a penniless former soldier. Next there is Lady Glencora who is married
...more
Hazel
Well, I see now why I had given this only a single star. Like my friend Ross, with me it's not so much a matter of Can I forgive her?, as Can I understand what the hell she's thinking?. Alice is what my grandmother would have called one confused bootoo, (?spelling) and Trollope hasn't elucidated her motivations at all. She's faced with a paragon, recognises him as a paragon, and jilts him; then chooses a snake instead. She promises the snake her fortune, and insists on continuing to hand it over ...more
Wealhtheow
This is the first novel in the Palliser series, and it's about as Victorian as you get. Sexist, classist, racist, peopled with ridiculous characters that are mere caricatures, replete with plot twists that make no sense and social mores that are laughable. Trollope would never write one sentence when he could write a chapter, and never write a chapter when he could write another 50 pages. At 850 pages of very small type, one might assume that some action takes place, or that at least one charact ...more
Helle
My first encounter with Anthony Trollope required a lot of patience on my part. Not only is the novel over 800 pages long; it also builds so gradually and slowly that after 200 pages, I still wasn’t sure that I was prepared to continue. And I certainly wasn’t planning on continuing with the next instalment in the Palliser series. Now I’m not so sure.

Written in 1864, it seems reasonable and obvious to compare Trollope with Dickens. Indeed, there are a few similarities, e.g. in the choice of names
...more
Melanie
Watch out: SPOILER!!
A lot of pages about a woman in 19th century England who makes independent decisions that almost lead to her ruin and is saved graciously in the end by good men who she should have listened to from the start. Well, it's not as bad as that but at the moment it's the taste in my mouth that's left after finishing the book.
I had trouble getting into it but I got to like a few of the characters. I found it interesting because you seemed to learn more about time and people than i
...more
Dree
Excellent book about middle to upper class England in the 1860s. Some are rich, some are titled, others are younger sons and thus penniless, still others have worked for their money and become wealthy through industry or farming (can the earned rich and the inherited rich mix?). Some are in the House of Commons, others want to be (or don't want to be!). So many are living beyond their means, trying to keep up with their wealthy relatives.

And there is Alice Vavasor, getting old to be single. She
...more
Elizabeth Quinn
Stephen King quipped about this Trollope novel, "Can you possibly finish it?" I'm certain that he did, and I did too, but be forewarned: Trollope was being paid by the word to write weekly installments for a Victorian serial, and it shows. Can You Forgive Her is the question he asks the reader during his recounting of the choices of Alice Vavasour, an Englishwoman of small but independent means who is engaged to a seemingly bland country gentleman when the novel opens. Although Alice is clearly ...more
Kirsti
Jun 28, 2008 Kirsti rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of big, sprawly English novels
Recommended to Kirsti by: Janice
Shelves: fiction, eccentricity
Oh, that Alice Vavasor. What. A. Ditherer.

A wonderful, big, sprawly novel. To me, it was not as immediately enthralling as The Way We Live Now, but once the Pallisers finally arrived, I was hooked.

Here are some of my favorite lines from the book--most from the first half of the book, though I found the second half a better read overall.

"People always do seem to think it so terrible that a girl should have her own way in anything. I haven't much of my own way at present; but you see, when I'm mar
...more
Bruno Bouchet
Alice Vavasor’s dithering isn’t as annoying as you’d initially think. Given the bondage that married women were held in at the time, her uncertainty and fear seem completely reasonable to a modern reader. For most of the novel Trollope comes across as really modern in his attitude to women, in his support for Alice but when she finally capitulates, boy does she capitulate, rushing headlong into submissive “wee wifey” obedience. As interesting as feisty Alice is, the novel really is at its most e ...more
Carl
Okay, I like Trollope as much as the next guy, but this one did get a little tedious. Alice is a pain in the neck; John Grey is too perfect (Helping out the scoundrel who steals his girl??? Come on!) But the redeeming qualities are there, too. George Vavasor is a wonderful villain. There are two great, shocking scenes: the fistfight with John Grey and then the encounter with sister Jane where he pushes her down and breaks her arm. Wow! I also liked Jane very much. A truly human person. Trollope ...more
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Anthony Trollope became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of Trollope's best-loved works, known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire; he also wrote penetrating novels on political, social, and gender issues and conflicts of his day.

Trollope has always been a popular novelist. Noted fans ha
...more
More about Anthony Trollope...

Other Books in the Series

Palliser (6 books)
  • Phineas Finn (Palliser, #2)
  • The Eustace Diamonds (Palliser, #3)
  • Phineas Redux
  • The Prime Minister
  • The Duke's Children
Barchester Towers The Way We Live Now The Warden Phineas Finn (Palliser, #2) He Knew He Was Right

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“She was as one who, in madness, was resolute to throw herself from a precipice, but to whom some remnant of sanity remained which forced her to seek those who would save her from herself.” 47 likes
“Little bits of things make me do it; — perhaps a word that I said and ought not to have said ten years ago; — the most ordinary little mistakes, even my own past thoughts to myself about the merest trifles. They are always making me shiver.” 10 likes
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