Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Can You Forgive Her?” as Want to Read:
Can You Forgive Her?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Can You Forgive Her? (Palliser #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  4,758 Ratings  ·  408 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Can You Forgive Her?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Can You Forgive Her?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 13, 2009 Buck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicks-dig-it
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
Sep 08, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mary Ronan Drew
Jul 07, 2016 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All Trollope aficionados are periodically asked The Big Question: Which of Trollope's books should a newcomer read first? 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 choose
Jul 26, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trollope
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
Nov 28, 2012 B0nnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Tiffany Reisz
Aug 11, 2016 Tiffany Reisz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reader, I forgave her.
ETA: Cecily read my review and didn't understand why I only gave it three stars. I think her question is absolutely legitimate; I don't explain that very well. I had trouble understanding one of the prime protagonists - Alice. Please see messages 5, 6, 7 and 8 below. I explain in more detail there. Also I think the author could have done more in describing Baden, Germany, and both Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland.


I definitely enjoyed this book and I am u
Jul 28, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Trollope has been one of those authors that I've circled around for years. Have always meant to read "something" but never quite sure where to start. This was an excellent book to start with and I have to say that it was surprisingly readable. No point in rehashing the synopsis but this lengthy novel has a bit of everything - romance, politics, humor and pathos.

Jan 03, 2016 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jilts, Jiltees, Dickens fans
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 choose Mr. Dull and Dependable, or 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 too much to sa
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
Aug 24, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trollope, reread
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
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
Vanessa Wu
Oct 16, 2013 Vanessa Wu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 01, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 25, 2007 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trollope
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
Jul 08, 2011 Hazel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
Oct 15, 2008 Gemma rated it it was amazing
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....
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
Mar 15, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-c-england
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
Justin Evans
Feb 28, 2013 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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,
Feb 18, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Weirdly, this offering from a master of the form during the heyday of the novel turns out to be really good. It's possible that I am some kind of idiot for not reading Trollope sooner. Even the ridiculous parts are great.
Mar 23, 2016 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
3.5 stars and continuing on with Phineas Finn, the next in the Palliser series :)
full review to come
Rosamund Hodge
Alice Vavasour is engaged to John Grey, a kind man whom she loves, but she fears that she will be stifled by his quiet life. She longs to support a husband in his political ambitions, and political ambitions are just what her disreputable cousin (and former fiancée) George Vavasour has in spades. Alice breaks off her engagement with John, and though she swore years ago never to love George again, she finds herself slowly drawn back to him.

(I really, really wish that Alice could get together with
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Your Thanksgiving Weekend Read 1 11 Nov 25, 2014 05:10PM  
Exploring Anthony...: Can You Forgive Her? 7 29 Jan 04, 2014 07:41AM  
Trollope's Palliser Series 1 38 Sep 09, 2008 08:22AM  
  • Aurora Floyd
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • East Lynne
  • Armadale
  • Esther Waters
  • Belinda
  • New Grub Street
  • The Bride of Lammermoor
  • The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
  • Ruth
  • Desperate Remedies
  • Romola
  • Dombey and Son
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 about Anthony Trollope...

Other Books in the Series

Palliser (6 books)
  • Phineas Finn (Palliser, #2)
  • The Eustace Diamonds (Palliser, #3)
  • Phineas Redux (Palliser, #4)
  • The Prime Minister (Palliser #5)
  • The Duke's Children (Palliser, #6)

Share This Book

“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.” 53 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.” 11 likes
More quotes…