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Three Clerks

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  276 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Set in the 1850s, The Three Clerks exposes and probes the relationships between three clerks and the three sisters who became their wives. At the same time it satirizes the Civil Service examinations and financial corruption in dealings on the stock market.
Paperback, 497 pages
Published February 1st 1981 by Dover Publications (first published 1858)
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
Trollope begins in his usual way by dedicating one of several initial chapters to establishing his characters and their situation. My first reaction while reading these first half dozen chapters is that this relatively early novel was not going to be as good as his later ones, but this from the introduction reflects my thoughts exactly.
Trollope himself liked the work well: —
" The plot is not as good as that of The Macdermots; nor are any characters in the book equal to those of Mrs. Proudie an
Mar 20, 2007 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trollope
Trollope draws on his own youth for the character of Charley Tudor, one of the three clerks of the title. Like Trollope, Charley begins his civil service in desultory fashion, falls into the hands of money lenders, and finds himself in danger of begin coerced into what would have been a ruinous marriage. But all comes right in the end for Charley, as it did for Trollope. Of course Charley's story is only one-third of the plot.

Trollope also uses this novel as a platform from which to weigh in on
Jun 30, 2016 Ginny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my second read of this book, I did appreciate parts of it more than my first read, but it is still my least favourite Trollope novel. The characters seem sterotypical, the flow chunky, and the politics preachy.
In this novel, Trollope begins to indulge in a little bit of what young people nowadays call "meta" - that is, he discusses his own characteristics as a novelist. His device is to have his youngest protagonist be a writer of pulp fiction, whose fictional readers declare he has failed to write a proper "Nemesis" or villain. This, I am sure, Trollope had heard about his own novels - but I think Trollope's ability to sympathize even with his "baddies" is one of his most endearing characteristics, a ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Ruthiella rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This was my second read for the Trollope bicentennial being celebrated at Books and Chocolate. Of the four books of his that I have now read, this is definitely my least favorite. Coming in at around 550 pages this is one of Trollope’s shorter (HA!) works. The story revolves around three young gentlemen, all who work for the British Civil Service in London and their relationship to three young sisters who live a genteel, middle class life in Hampton, near London.

I think what put me off slightly
Tim Wu
Jun 13, 2013 Tim Wu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much that is clumsy and overdone in this book but I liked it anyhow. Trollope does a wonderful job of contrasting the joys of a cozy cottage life and the horrors of life as a stock speculator.

Also I particularly enjoyed Charley's dilemma when he is engaged to Norah the Irish barmaid and also madly in love with Kate the 16-year-old,
Sep 18, 2012 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Trollope. This was a good one. The stuff about the civil service seems so ... contemporary. Topical. Still relevant. I guess some things never change.
I once took a day workshop with Hilary Mantel on historical fiction (which I do not write but glommed on it because Mantel), wherein she spoke a bit about the sturdiness of the triangular emotional structure that comes with three more-or-less main characters. (I believe she specifically referred to her novel-tome on the French revolution in which she attempted to rehabilitate Robespierre.)

Three Clerks is a good example of the structure, and even better, Trollope pulls off the rare feat of not h
Evan Ostryzniuk
Only for the initiated
A lesser work by the classic Victorian novelist, it must be said, although it does show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Set in the mid-1850s, the story revolves about three young in the British civil service. Two are cousins and the other a friend. Their names are not important, or their origins. They endure professional trials, romantic tribulations, a falling out and assorted misadventures. While the prose is breezy and humourous for the most par
Sep 26, 2015 Pgchuis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5* rounded up. The story of three civil service clerks, Henry, Alaric and Charley and of the three daughters of Mrs Woodward, Gertrude, Linda and Katie. Alaric becomes a Civil Service Commissioner and plans to run for parliament, but his moral compass is being distorted by his despicable friend Undy. Alaric throws over one sister and marries another and finally receives his comeuppance. Charley is a young scoundrel who struggles to live up to his good intentions. Henry spends the entire novel ...more
Jane Lowy
Sep 28, 2012 Jane Lowy rated it really liked it
The Three Clerks is a delightful novel, once one has slogged through Trollope's standard tedious but necessary first few character introduction chapters. It concerns the British civil service, the dangers of ambition and stock speculation, and the intricate relationships between the three clerks with each other and with a family of three sisters and their mother. Lively writing abounds, including a truly hilarious passage about a civil service competency examination (incredibly though that may s ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's no-one like Trollope. If you don't like his characteristic asides to the reader, then give this one a miss - it's full of them.
He has such knowledge and understanding of human nature! "An accident, if it does no material harm, is always an inspiriting thing, unless one feels that it has been attributable to one's own fault" - he's right, isn't he? And fancy having the nerve to use a Dickens character as a throwaway - "her dresses were made at the distinguished establishment of Madame Ma
Jan 11, 2011 Kat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This novel deals with something Trollope knew very well--the civil service system. Set at the time when civil service examinations first began, the novel takes a comic and unflattering view of the reformers and the reformed. The three clerks in question have different levels of ability, education, financial resources, and romantic gifts, but perhaps they differ most notably in ethical stamina.

The novel is tremendously fun, though veering more toward the caricature end of Trollope's spectrum--he
"The Three Clerks" serves as a miserable title for a wonderful novel - that is if you are already a fan of Anthony Trollope's writing style. We follow the early careers and romantic life of three young civil servants in Westminster. Trollope makes clear his admiration for the basic purpose and ethos of public service, but gives the reader hilarious examples of its ridiculous aspects, such as entrance examinations (tests) and interviews. His clerks are sometimes sorrily tempted by sloth and corru ...more
Gillian James
Aug 01, 2015 Gillian James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel follows the fortunes of three young civil servants and three sisters, one of whom they each fall in love with. One young man, Harry, is respectable, sensible and honourable. Harry's friend Alaric Tudor is clever and ambitious but dishonest. The third young man, Charlie Tudor, is an idle rogue who gets into debt and flirts with barmaids. While Harry is clearly supposed to be the most moral and admirable character he's rather dull and pompous. Of the three young ladies the youngest and ...more
Emma Glaisher
Much to like - it's Trollope after all. Human beings, mostly warts and all. A little disappointed as I'd gathered there was a wonderful 'heroine' (not Trollope's word) and I just wanted to slap her. I really enjoyed the entirely redundant chapter on the Civil Service (cut out of later editions).

Sometimes I find the disconnect in values between the Victorian era and now almost too big a gulf to cross (which never happens with Regency and Jane Austen).

An enjoyable book, but Barchester Towers it
Sharon Waldron
Jan 09, 2016 Sharon Waldron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the humor

I love reading Anthony Trollope, and I especially loved the humorous way Undy Scott is described and treated in this book . Although the book is pure fiction you get a good feel of how it felt to work in the civil service in the late 1880's. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction.
Michael Baranowski
Trollope is, by far, my favorite author, even though most of his books are variations on the same theme. That ends up not mattering, because of his amazing ability to put you in the minds of his characters and, above all, his great sympathy and humanity.
Nov 14, 2011 Ange rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Characters: Alaric Tudor and Harry Norman and Charlie Tudor. Shows how people can be corrupted and shows how people behavior can be changed for good and bad. Also shows how politicians can go very bad.

Enjoyed author speaking and explaining things to me. Fun.
Jan 11, 2013 Katrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this Victorian classic which in some ways is very up to date as it is about the civil service, bribery, insider dealing and private pension robbing. Obviously human nature being what it is, things haven't changed much over the years.
Christina Dudley
Oh my! Only the second Trollope book I've gotten too bored to finish (the other was PHINEAS REDUX). While I loved the naval uncle with the stymied career who came to live with the gals, the rest of the characters didn't interest me at all, so I'm giving up.
Janine Wilson
If you like Trollope's style, as I do, you will probably like this book, although this is not one of his best. The worst part is the ridiculous names he gives some of the characters.
Sep 13, 2015 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthony-trollope
I liked this
Marts  (Thinker)
Exploring the works of the civil service and financial dealings of the 1800s, through a well constructed plot focusing on the lives and thoughts of three clerks...
Jun 28, 2016 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthony-trollope
May be my favorite Trollope! No, I loved Small House and the Warden and Barchester Towers equally well! I just love Trollope!!
Martha Mcever
Jul 06, 2016 Martha Mcever rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chaffanbrass is hilarious!
Jul 23, 2010 Flora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This one done right after Barchester Towers.
Rona Roberts
Sep 12, 2015 Rona Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tougher for me to get engaged at the outset. So worth it in the long run. Brilliant passages of commentary, with the narrative as a backdrop, proved the very best part.
Lateniteknitter rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2012
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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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