Nancy's Reviews > The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope
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's review
Sep 29, 2011

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bookshelves: classics
Read from September 11 to 29, 2011

I enthusiastically read all of Trollope's parlimentary novels years ago and thought it would be fun to re-read The Prime Minister during our "interesting" pre-primary season in America. The forward to my edition stated that Trollope was particularly proud of this novel because his Prime Minister embodied all the ideals that he admired in a man in a leadership position.

That gave me pause for thought. Plantagenet Palliser was admirable in many ways and perhaps Trollope loved "his" Prime Minister because he was idealistic rather than political, honest rather than conniving. But he was such a dreary, introverted, dull dog that he made for a rather lack-luster leader and--no surprise--that led to a rather quiet political season during his tenure at the top. And a less than exciting novel.

Apparently Trollope was both surprised and disappointed that this book didn't enjoy the critical success that he expected and, reading it for the second time, I can understand why. To keep his readers engaged through the 900 (or so) pages, he inserted an unsuitable courtship, disastrous marriage, and satisfying conclusion to augment the political tale. That story carried the book and left the political meanderings of Palliser and his cabinet to the back burner.

If a reader has the stamina to read Trollope's parlimentary series as a whole, this is an interesting and logical component. As stand alone novels, I'd recommend The Eustace Diamonds, Phineas Finn or Phineas Redeaux instead.

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