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The Macdermots of Ballycloran

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  35 reviews
When Trollope landed in Dublin in 1841, in order to become clerk to a postal surveyor, few, if any, would have detected in him the successful novelist. Yet it was in Ireland, and while occupying that seemingly most unliterary position, that he wrote his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran.
Paperback, 636 pages
Published November 6th 2003 by Fredonia Books (NL) (first published 1847)
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was Trollope's debut. It didn't sell well and I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. Trollope's prose and general writing style was immediately recognizable. It appears he knew how to go about it from the first. The two biggest differences from his later novels are that he has only one plot line rather than the several I have come to expect, and that this of his Irish novels, mostly involves those of the poorer classes rather than those more middle class people that are his ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the edition of The Macdermots of Ballycloran that I read. Unfortunately, books published by the Folio Society rarely appear in Goodreads' databases, so I usually pick the edition whose number of pages is the closest (the Folio edition has 448 pages as opposed to Penguin's 384).

The main reason I bring up this issue is that it very much matters which edition of this book you read. Folio Society published the original 1847 edition, which has 36 chapters. In 1860, the novel was
Laurel Hicks
This is the first of forty-seven novels by Anthony Trollope. I would say he got off to a pretty good start, and I laud him for not giving up when the public proclaimed it a failure. It's an Irish novel, which was not popular at the time in England, and it is a sad tale with only a few bright lights, the brightest of which is Father John, the priest of the village church.
classic reverie
I read this story in a collection of Trollope's works. I have been wanting to read a story by him & decided on his first (1847) which is / was not very popular or well received but I agree with Trollope's comments on this, he did "not know that I ever made one so good." Never having read him before, I cannot say this is not his usual story but a pure melancholy story of an Irish family in dire straits but with genteel ancestry. Thady's brotherly love for his sister Feemy but lack of return ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
First sentence: In the autumn, 184 — , business took me into the West of Ireland, and, amongst other places, to the quiet little village of Drumsna, which is in the province of Connaught, County Leitrim, about 72 miles w.n.w. of Dublin, on the mail-coach road to Sligo.

Premise/plot: A traveler (presumably the author/narrator) stumbles across an abandoned estate in Ireland named Ballycloran. He learns from residents of the tragic tale of the Macdermot family. From chapter two through the end, the
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first third of book starts off a bit slow. However, it is well worth sticking with it as the story becomes very gripping. At times it can be a bit difficult to read due to Trollope writing the characters dialogue phonetically in the Irish accent.
Douglas Jones
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have The Complete Works of Anthony Trollope on my kindle and decided to give him a try. Decided to read his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran.

I do not regret this decision. It was an excellent novel! The plot was realistic and good and the characters were real people! Even though this is very much a first novel with first novel flaws (the novel is a little too long) I did love it and I WILL be reading more of his work.

Actually I feel he writes better than Dickens, but that is me.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, 19th-century
I love Trollope's novels, but I didn't expect his first novel to be this good. The Irishness is not just a matter of exotic stage setting or condescending comedy, as happens so often in English novels about Ireland. Trollope clearly observed Irish culture and landscape and ways of living closely; he has an eye for foibles while maintaining the compassion for people caught in personal and economic traps that characterises his mature fiction. His characters are trapped in their broadly human and ...more
His first novel, and, um, not his greatest. Oh, Trollope, whyfor phonetically rendered Irish dialect?
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately Trollope's debut novel didn't hold my interest the same way his later ones have in the past. The Macdermots of Ballycloran takes its' place in Ireland, focusing on a family called Macdermots living in a house that is falling apart. While the father is falling apart in the same way the house is, Thady, the son, is working hard to keep the family together. His sister, Feemy, is being courted by a soldier that doesn't seem to have any intention of marrying Feemy. The novel focuses on ...more
Julie Bye
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the novel and the ending surprised me. I would have given it a higher rating except for some glaring plot faults and would wishy washy female characters. I know it’s written in a different time and ladies were more delicate, but the main female character of Feemy is shallow, stupid and feints every five minutes. The deterioration of the father would have been more believable if he was older. But the novel does make you wonder who in the novel are good people and who are not, what is ...more
Tom James
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The sad tale of a once prosperous landowning Irish family on the decline during the years just prior to the potato famine. Ireland's woes did not begin with the famine of the 1840s, but reached back in time and this story gives us a small glimpse into the customs, the conditions, and the circumstances that lead to the death of a government official and the arrest and trial of a man who has some very real motives and enough circumstantial evidence to hang him. Not typical Trollope fare, at least ...more
Erika RS
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this book because it was the first in a complete works of Anthony Trollope that I'd bought for my Kindle. It was only after that I learned that this was a mistake and that this was not the Trollope novel to start with. (That, at least according to many on the internet, being The Warden.)

I didn't dislike this book, but I couldn't quite like it either. It had a lot of elements that were interesting, but the overall story was just so unrelentingly sad and hopeless that I kept getting
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
When Trollope landed in Dublin in 1841, in order to become clerk to a postal surveyor, few, if any, would have detected in him the successful novelist. Yet it was in Ireland, and while occupying that seemingly most unliterary position, that he wrote his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran.

Very hard to read. Like the Irish themselves, the conversation is convoluted, repetitive.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
An involving novel populated with interesting characters and creates a wonderful feeling of time and place. Yes, it takes a while to get used to the speech written in local dialect but, once mastered, this adds to the characters and the story as a whole.
Ali Miremadi
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A good first novel. Lots of the later Trollope evident here, as well as a plot device borrowed by Tolstoy. An indictment of the neglect shown to Ireland by Britain. Much darker than most later Trollope though.
Paul Servini
Took me quite a while to warm to this book, but once I did get into it, I really started to enjoy it.
John Croall
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Slow start, but soon started to enjoy it. Trollope’s first book and it is excellent.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
the first novel. He definitely did better in later works!
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
When, realizing I had somehow missed Trollope entirely in the past, I downloaded his complete works, I must admit I wasn't expecting the first novel I read to be a rather grim fable about social troubles in Ireland. Subsequent perusal of the first few chapters of his autobiography give the reason: he spent a good part of his twenties working for the Post Office there. Trollope gives fair warning of his unhappy ending by introducing his story with a picture of the desolate abandoned estate, ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Anthony Trollope's first novel and one which he later commented in his biography he did "not know that I ever made one so good."

It tends to be dismissed by most critic's today but it is an excellent novel and deserves a far better fate than it has earned. It's a tragedy and it does reflect some melodrama in the end that was fairly typical of it's time. But, I wouldn't let that discourage you in the least, if you like Victorian era novels, this is an excellent choice.
Janine Wilson
Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Not everyone would enjoy this book, but I'm a big fan of Trollope and have always felt that he is underrated. It took me a while to get used to the Irish dialect, but once I did, I got into the story. It was clear that Trollope had a message about how social injustice can lead people to make bad choices out of desperation, reminding me of Les Miserables. Trollope always seems to know his characters personally and to care about them.
This first novel of Trollope's is, of course, not as polished as some of his later ones, but it may also be one of the most dramatic, with some truly tragical things happening near the end. I can't quite define exactly why, but I love reading Trollope. One of the things that I like that I can specify are his names that delineate certain characterteristics - like the lawyer who is called Mr. Allewinde. (Ha, ha, ha.)
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dear me, this is a miserable tale. But all the seeds of the wonderful novelist he was to become are there - the detailed, believable characters, the asides to the reader, and the detailed description of ordinary (in this case, very ordinary indeed)lives. Some of the Irish dialect is heavy going at times but the interest of the story carries you along. Maybe only one for the Trollope completist, but I'm sure there are plenty of us out there!
Kathryn L. Rowe

This novel is so dark and sad. It is beautifully written but there is none of Trollope's humor or levity to lighten the story. However it still does ring true all these many years later. Sad that this is true. Don't think many people would enjoy the length of this very dark book.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Not the usual Trollope, but still a pretty good read. The story is set in Ireland and the characters are entertaining and illustrate the society of the time. A theme of poverty and oppression runs through the narrative and the tone, despite some comic episodes, is somber. As a first novel it gives more than a hint of the author's emerging talent.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
The Macdermots of Ballycloran concerns a poor middle-nineteenth century Irish family. The character development is not as rich as in Trollope's later novels but it does contain fine descriptions of rural Irish poverty.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a good story, you really got to know and understand the characters. I thought the book painted very clear pictures of the people, landscape and way of life at the time and was therefore very interesting.
Michael Cayley
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic-fiction
Trollope's first novel. A grim story of an impoverished family in 19th century Ireland before the potato famine. Trollope was clearly learning his craft. A good plot is spoilt by rather tedious telling and somewhat heavy-handed attempts to lighten things here and there with humour.
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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
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