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He Knew He Was Right

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  4,353 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
Widely regarded as one of Trollope's most successful later novels, He Knew He Was Right is a study of marriage and of sexual relationships cast against a background of agitation for women's rights.
823 pages
Published (first published 1869)
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Sep 22, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Louis Trevelyan has everything he could wish for. He has money, a respected place in society and a wife, Emily, he deeply loves and who loves him too. He becomes obsessed with Emily's friendship with Colonel Osborne. The Colonel is an older man with a reputation. Osborne is very aware of the problems he is causing between Louis and Emily and he decides to play on their emotions and delights in the game.

Louis and Emily will not compromise and stubbornness and hurt on both sides causes anger and d
Elizabeth (Alaska)
In the marriage ceremony, the woman promises "to love, honor and obey." When asked to be obedient, Emily Trevelyan agrees to obey in all things except the one thing which has been demanded. Such is the point around which this plot revolves. It makes the novel more full of drama than most of his I have read.

I have said elsewhere that Trollope does a better job with women characterizations than most male authors, especially those 19th Century authors I have read. But even I did not expect this: "T
One of my favorite things about Anthony Trollope's novels is his talent for penetrating psychological portraits, and He Knew He Was Right is one of Trollope's best in this respect. Here, he examines Louis Trevelyan, a man who unjustly accuses his wife Emily of infidelity, and his descent from jealousy and rage into madness. Trollope himself disliked the novel, feeling that he'd failed in his effort to create sympathy for the troubled Trevelyan, yet I felt that he did succeed; the portrait of Tre ...more
Okay, it's partly my anachronistic reading as a twenty-first century feminist, but it's also the strain of being over eight hundred pages long when it only could support around two-thirds that length: I loved this book at the halfway mark, and kind of resented it by the end.

Initially this struck me, like many nineteenth-century British novels, as a black comedy about a crisis created by the extremely unequal status of men and women, whose individual personal relationships were supposed to form t
Sep 07, 2016 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a great story from the first page to the last!

Louis Trevelyan is the first character introduced and his story is the main theme throughout. Trevelyan, at 24 years old is a very handsome, intelligent man with secure investments. In his travels to the Mandarin Islands, Louis falls in love with Emily Rowley, the eldest daughter of four in the Rowley family. The two set off for England and marry, and settle in on Curzon Street, a nice, comfortable life, good society.

Ah, Curzon Street, “wher
Genia Lukin
Nov 29, 2014 Genia Lukin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, my-ebooks
This book is way too misogynistic for me. The whole premise of a husband who is overjealous but a wife who "owes obedience" and by refusing to give it drives him insane is just... too obnoxious for words. I do understand this is 1860s, I just don't have to like it or think it should deserve as much leeway as we give it. After all, what's it all about? The woman sees a guy who is known for being a bit too cozy with the ladies because he's an old family friend. The husband isn't incensed so much b ...more
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
When Louis Trevelyan was twenty-four years old, he had all the world before him where to choose; and, among other things, he chose to go to the Mandarin Islands, and there fell in love with Emily Rowley, the daughter of Sir Marmaduke, the governor. Sir Marmaduke Rowley, at this period of his life, was a respectable middle-aged public servant, in good repute, who had, however, as yet achieved for himself neither an exalted position nor a
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 22, 2014 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some say this is Trollope's greatest novel. The story is about a couple who struggle for control in what is obviously not a very strong marriage. When the innocent wife refused to say she had an affair with another man as her husband demanded, he broke up their home and slowly went mad because he knew he was right.

This is my fourth recorded reading of the novel, but I may have read it a fifth time back in the 1960s. A fine novel but not my favorite.
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This is a terrific novel! Okay, having said that though, I have to admit that the primary tale of the disintegration of the Trevelyan's marriage through the increasing madness of Louis Trevelyan because of his belief that his wife was cheating on him did become a bit tiresome after a while. I was much more engaged in the lives and affairs of all of the novel's other characters. But I think Trollope wrote the novel generally knowing that this response would occur in each of his readers. In other ...more
Ricardo Moedano
May 08, 2014 Ricardo Moedano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mentors
At first the story struck me as though alternate, extended versions of a small event and a similar situation in Vanity Fair - with Colonel Osbourne somehow reprising the role of the Marquis of Steyne, whose intimacy with Becky Sharp brought trouble between her and her husband Rawdon. In Trollopes novel Louis Trevelyan is driven over the egde by jealousy of the Colonel and obduracy towards his wife Emily (he banishes her from his house, hires a detective to spy on her, arranges to kidnap their ch ...more
Richard Smith
Jan 31, 2015 Richard Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read some 20 of Trollope's novels, but this is the first one I've read twice. For me this is one of Trollope's best, if not the best--a study of pathological jealousy with lots of fun, mainly thwarted love affairs that come right, thrown in. I cared a lot about many of the characters, and enjoyed the usual array of strong minded women and gormless men. The non-judgmental, mildly amused tone of the books is attractive, which is why Trollope is so loved and "such a comfort."
Mar 15, 2015 Ruthiella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
April 24, 2015 will mark the bicentennial of Anthony Trollope’s birthday and Karen at Books and Chocolate is planning a celebration on her blog Books & Chocolate to encourage her readers to pick up as much Trollope as possible between now and then. I had planned already to read the forth book in the Barsetshire Chronicles this year as part of Karen’s Back to the Classics 2015 challenge, so I could have doubled up, but I felt that instead I should take this opportunity to read one of his sta ...more
Aug 10, 2012 Morris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really reading the printed edition by John Sutherland but an iBooks edition, I forget which, that isn't on the goodreads list. But it's complete with the original illustrations and a text fairly free of typos. I'd recommend the edition (for iPad readers--I'd rather have Sutherland's edition). I'm reading HKHWR because a friend who has read all of Trollope's novels (yes, *all*, and other related stuff) rates it first in the Trollope canon. I've read a few other T novels and have yet to fi ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
This was my fourth Trollope novel.I have not really cared for any of them, sadly. The Warden and Barchester Towers were okay, but I really hated The Way We Live Now. I like Trollope’s writing well enough, but I always have a hard time because most of his characters are so unlikeable. Trollope himself was not fond of He Knew He Was Right because Louis Trevelyan was so unsympathetic. I have to agree. It’s not good if I like the subplots better than the main plot of a novel! I could not sympathize ...more
Jilly Gagnon
One day I thought to myself "Trollope, there's an author I haven't ever tried on for size. I like Dickens, I like George Eliot, why not Trollope?"

So many reasons why not Trollope, at least if this book is any indicator. Of all the verbose Victorians, Trollope is, to me, the one whose "paid by the word" status is most painfully obvious. I like Dickens to ramble on - with this tiring tome (and it is a tome - some 900 pages) I was just bored.

I am a compulsive book-finisher, which means when I hate
Feb 20, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Trollope is one of my favorite authors - he writes with such familiarity that you get sucked right into the story, no matter what it is.
Monty Milne
Fascinating not just for its superb description of the corrosive effects of unreasonable jealousy, but also because of its multiple parallel sub-plots, wry humour, and skilful characterisation. The wonderful Miss Stanbury reminded me a little of P G Wodehouse's Aunt Dahlia. Trollope is very good at powerful women whose personalities have qualities which both attract and repel, perhaps because they are also slightly bonkers. Like many of the characters, Miss Jemima Stanbury is far more entertaini ...more
Jul 02, 2016 Helynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite its length (99 chapters) and myriads of characters and subplots, this is a smooth, easy and compelling read, beautifully written. I found it to be such a page-turner that I did not give Trollope’s style the attention it deserved. This is the kind of book that should be savored in a second and probably third read. The title of the novel comes from the attitude of young Louis Trevelyan, who loves his wife Emily and their small son, but who cannot quell his suspicions when she receives inno ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trollope is unjustly overlooked when top 19th-century novelists are mentioned. "He Knew He Was Right" is a good example of the prolific Trollope's continued relevance, even with his weaknesses there for all to see.

"He Knew He Was Right" is too long, there are spells of uninspired and repetitive plotting, and the general thrust of the story isn't really a "grabber" for modern audiences. But look more closely. While Trollope doesn't trot out the memorably eccentric and wild characters that, say, D
Sep 02, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who aren't easily annoyed by fictional characters
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: indirectly, David Tennant (ha, I WISH directly)
* * *

Louis Trevelyan is travelling the world and visits a British colony called the Mandarin Islands. He falls in love with the governor's eldest daughter, Emily, and proposes marriage. He also proposes to take her sister Nora to England with them so that Emily has company. All is well, right?

Well. Enter Colonel Osborne, a friend of Emily's father and known to be a bit of a roué. Trevelyan gets himself all in a lather because Osborne keeps coming to call, even though Emily has not given him a si
Jul 20, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard this was Trollope's best book, and for that reason I've put off reading it (as Trollope is one of my favorite authors, and once I've read his best book, what is there left?). I am not sure if it his absolute best, but I can't think of a better one. His skill at characterization and plotting (which was never his strong suit) are at their absolute heights. This is a book where everyone "knows" they are right, and heartbreaking situations arise from the characters' inability to empathize ...more
Kilian Metcalf
Aug 01, 2014 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Trollope's darkest novels. Unfortunately he tries to lighten the mood by loading the book down with happy little subplots, any one of which would have made a good story in itself. Louis and Emily Trevelyan are happily married until the malicious actions of Emily's old family friend drives a wedge between them. Both of them are too proud to admit they could be wrong, and what at first is a misunderstanding turns into something very deep and very dark. I thought this was going to be ...more
Done!!! This was my first Trollope (which is a fun thing to write) and I really liked it. I had gotten it into my head that Trollope was going to read like Dickens, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, and so I've been avoiding Trollope. Actually, Trollope reads more like an extended Jane Austen novel. I was not expecting so much wit and giggle-worthy one liners. One thing I will criticize though, this book could have been about 100 pages shorter. Trollope apparently had a self-imposed wor ...more
David Gregg
Jul 04, 2010 David Gregg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novel
This came highly recommended by a friend. She loves digging into characters, and this book certainly does that. But however much I tried, I just could not finish this book. I get stressed out when I'm around too much petty drama and this book has a lot of it. Trollope is an excellent writer. His characters are true to imperfect human form. He stands out as a master among English literary masters, but I just couldn't stand the unwavering pettiness that seems to dominate the major plot.
Aug 11, 2014 Ortegast rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel has all the interesting psychological details and character studies of Trollope's other novels. Interesting reflections on politics and the British class system of the period too. But the book was at least 200 pages longer than it needed to be and for much of the time I thought the story hot list in the details.
I so loved this book: really his most brilliant. Good solid prose as always, well-balanced but more passionate and angry than any of his others. One of my top 25 favorites of all books, ever (so far).
Ellie NYC
Rebecca Huston
I've been wanting to read this one ever since I saw the Masterpiece Theatre production of it. However, it's one huge doorstop of a book...
Nov 19, 2011 pearl marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
One hell of a title and just look at the cover of the Penguin Classics edition. Damn.
Aug 31, 2015 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bookclub
BOOM. DONE. Happy birthday, self.

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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
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“Words spoken cannot be recalled, and many a man and many a woman who has spoken a word at once regretted, are far too proud to express that regret.” 23 likes
“I am not fit to marry. I am often cross, and I like my own way, and I have a distaste for men.” 21 likes
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