Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Can You Forgive Her? (Palliser, #1)” as Want to Read:
Can You Forgive Her? (Palliser, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Can You Forgive Her?

(Palliser #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,048 ratings  ·  562 reviews
Alice Vavasor cannot decide whether to marry her ambitious but violent cousin George or the upright and gentlemanly John Grey - and finds herself accepting and rejecting each of them in turn.

Increasingly confused about her own feelings and unable to forgive herself for such vacillation, her situation is contrasted with that of her friend Lady Glencora - forced to marry th
Paperback, 847 pages
Published June 27th 1974 by Penguin Classics (first published 1865)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,048 ratings  ·  562 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 17, 2011 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
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Katie Lumsden
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
This was magnificent. I love Anthony Trollope's writing style, his explorations of marriage, love and responsibilities. Few people can make me love and hate characters like Trollope can, and this is another resounding success. What an author.
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can you Forgive Her? is the first of the Palliser’s series, Trollope’s more political novels. At the centre is Alice Vavasor whom the author asks us to forgive as she begins the story by jilting her very eligible and nearly perfect fiancée. This crime induces her to become engaged to her cousin who is so evil that Trollope made sure to give him a disfiguring facial scar lest the reader thinks for a moment George Vavasor is the tiniest bit good.

George has a sister, Kate, and they have an Aunt, M
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
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Roger Brunyate
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Men of Property; Women of Independence
She knew now that she must follow his guidance. She had found her master, as we sometimes say, and laughed at herself with a little inward laughter as she confessed that it was so. […] She had assumed the command of the ship, and had thrown it upon the rocks, and she felt that she never ought to take the captain’s place again.
The above passage is to be found on page 774 of the 830-page novel. Hardly a spoiler; all Victorian novels end with at least one ma
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
Sep 10, 2011 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
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.

Laurel Hicks
I'm planning to read all of Trollope's Palliser series 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 Prime Minis
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1800-1900, reviewed
In an interesting New Yorker piece, marking the bicentenary of Trollope’s birth in 2015, Adam Gopnik describes him as not a “sentence-by-sentence writer” or a “scene-by-scene writer,” but rather a “character-by-character writer.”

I found that helpful as I read Can You Forgive Her?, which Trollope published around his half-century, in 1864-65. At the sentence-by-sentence level, Trollope’s writing is no more than workaday. His words do not spring off the page or fall into glowing cadences; and I f
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
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
classic reverie
What a wonderful start to Anthony Trollope's Palliser series!! 💕🌸 Having read the Barchester series the first half of 2018, I had thought I wait awhile before starting this political series but while reading the last couple books from the former series which brought up, Plantagenet Palliser and wondering about Lilly Dale, if she is to be mentioned again and the introduction of Palliser still fresh in my mind, I had to continue. I plan on reading the next two books this year and I will finish up ...more
Vanessa Wu
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Can You Forgive Her is the first novel of the Palliser Chronicles, Anthony Trollope’s second series. It is loosely tied into his hugely popular Barchester Chronicles. The name character, Plantagenet Palliser, had a cameo appearance in one of the later Barset stories. He is the heir of the Duke of Omnium who is also in both series.

I have only the vaguest memory of Can You Forgive Her from 20 years ago when I read it and as it was not favorable, my expectations were low. Imagine my surprise when
Jun 13, 2014 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
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only Trollope I’d previously read was the short but enjoyable The Warden so, faced with the first of the Palliser books at seven hundred pages there was some trepidation –why is it big books do that to you? I needn’t have worried, Trollope is such an accessible writer that the pages turned quickly and I had the good fortune to read this with several others whose discussion definitely enriched my understanding and opinion of the book.

The story centers on several female characters and I must s
Anna Mussmann
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading Trollope is like having dinner with someone who is so loquacious, he’s almost rude--except that he’s also really interesting and can analyze all your friends with insightful accuracy.

The novel presents us with Alice, a heroine determined to live according to her own conscience. This ends up getting her into trouble. Even though she is in many ways the most sensible and virtuous person in the entire story--even though her values are conventional for her own time--she discovers that livin
Sherwood Smith
I waver on this one, the first of the Palliser novels. He obviously wrote it before he decided to follow the family in succeeding books, or he would not have employed his "minor characters with ridiculous names" trope in calling the Duke Omnium. But the duke becomes one of his very best characters, at least as good as anyone in Barsetshire.

Here's the interesting thing about this novel for me: I think it's his answer to Sense and Sensibility--he takes the storyline, even certain elements of the p
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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....
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed my rereading even more, much more, the second time around!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • East Lynne
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • Basil
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • Ruth
  • Esther Waters
  • Belinda
  • New Grub Street
  • Felix Holt: The Radical
  • Desperate Remedies
  • The Spoils of Poynton
  • The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
  • Barnaby Rudge
See similar books…
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

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)
“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.” 65 likes
“In this world things are beautiful only because they are not quite seen, or not perfectly understood. Poetry is precious chiefly because it suggests more than it declares.” 17 likes
More quotes…