Mandolin's Reviews > Is He Popenjoy?

Is He Popenjoy? by Anthony Trollope
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May 25, 11

it was ok

As a second son, Lord George Germain is content to remain in the background. His elder brother, who has cast off those same cares and responsibilities, lives in Italy and depends on him to take care of the family lands and tenants. Though not the reigning Marquis, George enjoys living a quiet and repressed life in the family manor. He also enjoys the freedom to choose a bride and, after being disappointed in his first love because of his penury, finds solace in the wealthy arms of the local Dean's daughter, Mary Lovelace. Mary is an innocent, fun-loving girl with a vivid imagination who is doted upon by her father and dreams of being swept away by a romantic hero. Though George is quite different from her daydream knight, she accepts his offer of marriage and teaches herself that she will come to love him eventually.

George and Mary take up residence with George's mother and sisters at Manor Cross, where Mary is sorely tried by the prim and proper lifestyle and rigid moral standards. Luckily, a premarital stipulation made by her father requires Lord George to acquire a home in London for the season, where she wholeheartedly flees. She quickly finds herself in trouble there. Though innocent in nature, the friendship that she forms with a dashing young captain begins to stir up gossip that angers her husband. His jealousy is provoke and, though he's guilty himself of romantic intrigues with his former love, he becomes angry with Mary and her would-be suitor. A rift in their relationship quickly ensues and is made worse by the return of his elder brother with an Italian wife and a son whose parentage is brought into question. The Dean, afraid to lose the possibility that he will one day be grandfather to a Marquis, convinces George to begin a legal investigation into the identity and legitimacy of this newly arrived Lord Popenjoy (the name given to the Marquis' heir.) The probe is inconclusive but becomes a moot point when the little boy dies, followed soon after by his odious father, leaving behind the title to George and his offspring. Will the resolution of this problem free the way for George and Mary to resolve their differences? Will they be drawn together by the birth of their own heir? Or is Mary's new-found independence going to be a wall between them that will never fall?

Certainly not among Trollope's best works, this book was a bit tedious. Most of the characters are unlikable with few - or no - redeeming qualities. Even George and Mary are difficult to like. I would recommend the Barset novels and a few of the other of his works before encouraging anyone to read this one. However, I did find some little gems within its pages:

"It is not what one suffers that kills one, but what one knows that other people see that one suffers."

"The Baroness...seemed to have no hesitation in speaking of man generally as a foul worm who ought to be put down and kept under, and merely allowed to be the father of children."

"My idea of a perfect world is one where nobody would ever have to get up."

I think the Dean's love for his daughter, though a bit overdone, was especially touching. For instance, "Anything he might have said of myself I could have borne. He could have applied no epithet to me which, I think, could even have ruffled me. But he spoke evil of you....Then I was full of wrath...I did not even attempt to control myself; but I took him by the throat and flung him violently to the ground." and "In his own habits he was simple. The happiness of his life had been to see his daughter happy. His very soul had smiled within him when she had smiled in his presence."

"...the tidings must be untrue. And yet he believed and rejoiced in believing every word of them. He was a pious man, and did not know that he was lying. He was an anxious Christian, and did not know that he was doing his best to injure an enemy behind he back. He hated the Dean; but he thought that he loved him....thought that he was most anxious for the salvation of the Dean's soul." (How true this is of so many Christians today!)

"Each must give way to the other if there is to be any happiness." (My own parent's recipe for marital success.)

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us,—excepting Jones who has committed the one sin that we will not forgive, that we ought not to forgive."

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