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Can You Forgive Her?
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The Trollope Project - Archives > Can You Forgive Her? Chapters 21-26: Oct 8-14

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
These chapters introduce Alice into the highest society, at Matching Priory.

First, as Alice arrives at Matching Priory station as a guest of the Pallisers She instantly perceived that she had become possessed of great privileges by belonging even for a time to Matching Priory, and that she was essentially growing upwards towards the light.

What do you think of Alices's change of situation? Is she indeed becoming grander by association? How does her eventual meeting with Lady Midlothian turn out?

I was amused by Jeffrey Palliser's comment on Alice mentioning that she enjoys reading.

Ah; they never do that here. I have heard that there is a library, but the clue to it has been lost, and nobody now knows the way. I don't believe in libraries. Nobody ever goes into the library to read, any more than you would go into a larder to eat. But there is this difference;-the food you consume does come out of the larders, but the books you read never come out of the libraries.

What does this say about the reading habits of the nobility of the time? About their libraries? Does anyone currently have a library from which they never take the books they read?

What are your first impressions of the relationship between Plantagenet Palliser and his wife, the Lady Glencora?

What is your impression at this point of the political workings on display in the novel?

Please share your thoughts on this section of the novel.


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2201 comments Mod
We now have a 3rd example of a woman choosing between 2 suitors. Glencora had been in love with Burgo but ended up with Palliser. In a sense, she chose her Mr. Grey, and she is not happy. Palliser is as happy as he can be. He had a flirtation with the ice queen Griselda in the other series but it seemed he mostly liked her because she was unattainable. When his uncle told him he had to shape up to keep his fortune, he quickly got over the infatuation. Plantagenet's real love is his career.


message 3: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 09, 2017 10:17AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Re libraries: Trollope may have been commenting obliquely on the fact that many libraries in Victorian upper class homes did not contain real books but had facsimiles which were merely a show of spines, complete with titles and gold leaf. These could be bought by the yard and are still available for pub decor etc:

https://decorbooks.co.uk

Another feature of Victorian home libraries was that many upper class men kept pornographic photos, sketches and/or sex toys inside hollowed out facsimile books with innocuous spines and covers. Libraries were male preserves so such naughtiness could be kept from prying females. Trollope, however, had no such inhibitions and frequently invited visitors, male and female, up to his large upstairs library room at Waltham House where he did a lot of his writing.

Many of the huge libraries we see in UK stately homes are padded out with such subterfuge volumes although, of course, there were genuine bibliophiles amongst the upper classes.


message 4: by Phrodrick (last edited Oct 09, 2017 06:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phrodrick As long as we are allowing a few glimpses into the less polite facts of life in Victorian England.
Men were actively encouraged to keep their animal lusts away from their sacred duty to procreate.
Women, certainly healthy ones, were assumed to have no animal lusts.

Estimations are that Victorian London provided a large enough supply of... ummm ladies of purchasable virtue for every husband in the larger area to visit one every night. I have seen ratios of 1:1 that is one husband per hussy.

For the record, Trollope is the writer
Trollop is the lady of purchasable virtue.
The origins of the term for a sex worker is uncertain, but is believed to have its derivation in common with the word troll.


message 5: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments You know, my interpretation was, au contraire, that a library in a stately home would be filled with boring things like corn law pamphlets, the works of Vetruvius, and maybe Haley's poetry, or, at best, Thompson's Four Seasons.

The Seasons and The Castle of Indolence


message 6: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
Madge UK wrote: "Another feature of Victorian home libraries was that many upper class men kept pornographic photos, sketches and/or sex toys inside hollowed out facsimile books with innocuous spines and covers. Libraries were male preserves so such naughtiness could be kept from prying females. Trollope, however, had no such inhibitions and frequently invited visitors, male and female, up to his large upstairs library room at Waltham House where he did a lot of his writing."

Goodness, Madge for a moment there I thought you meant he invited visitors up to see his pornography collection!


Phrodrick Yet all the Victorian ladies seemed to have endless supplies of 'French' Novels.

Pick a Little Talk a Little from Music Man
Eulalie, Ethel, Maud, Alma, Mrs Squires:
He left River City the Library building
But he left all the books to her

Alma:
Chaucer

Ethel:
Rabelais

Eulalie:
Bal-zac!

Ladies:
Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little,
Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more

OMG!
You don't think those innocent Victorian ladies got their French Novels from - (Dun Dun Dun !) The Master's Library!?! +Gasp!+


message 8: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Goodness, Madge for a moment there I thought you meant he invited visitors up to see his pornography collection!

By all accounts Trollope was a very loving, faithful and respectable husband Frances, unlike many others:)


message 9: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
That's my understanding as well-we must discuss reading a biography at some point in the Trollope project, as we did with Dickens.


message 10: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "We now have a 3rd example of a woman choosing between 2 suitors. Glencora had been in love with Burgo but ended up with Palliser. In a sense, she chose her Mr. Grey, and she is not happy. Palliser ..."

And, sadly, Pl.Palliser does not understand his wife, nor how to win her feelings:

I do not know that Lady Glencora's heart was made of that stern stuff which refuses to change its impressions; but it was a heart and it required food...she wanted the little daily assurance of her supremacy in the man's feelings, the constant touch of love, half accidental half contrived, the passing glance of the eye telling perhaps of some little joke understood only between them two rather than of love, the softness of an occasional kiss given here and there when chance might bring them together, some half-pretended interest in her little doings, a nod, a wink, a shake of the head, or even a pout. It should have been given to her to feed upon such food as this daily, and then she would have forgotten Burgo Fitzgerald. But Mr. Palliser understood none of these things; and therefore the image of Burgo Fitzgerald in all his beauty was ever before her eyes.

I felt that here Trollope gives a charming portrait of the daily sort of little habits of couples who are in love (which probably gives an idea of what his own relationship with his wife was like) and why Mr Palliser is inadequate in this regard. It does, however, suggest that with time Glencora might learn to love her husband, if he can learn to show affection towards her. Also, PP does have the distraction of a job if he is dissatisfied in his marriage (and lets remember, he was also manipulated into the marriage as much as Glencora was) while Glencora, in the absence of a child, has very little to distract her, outside of socializing with people who, for the most part, are neither her friends nor family.


message 11: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 10, 2017 08:03AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Excellent points Frances, thanks. Marriages in the upper classes were 'arranged' to suit the family, to keep money and property 'in house' and to keep or improve the bloodline. Perhaps Prince Charles' fated marriage was the last in our royal family to have these restrictions, which so often led to unhappiness. Hopefully PP and Glencora's arranged marriage will grow to be happy, as some, thankfully did.


message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments For me, Glencora is becoming perhaps the most likable and interesting character in the novel. Her thoughts and behavior reveal her to be a Victorian woman struggling with the ideals of the past and the desire for a more liberated future. She has done the proper thing in marrying Plantagenet, yet she cannot erase Burgo from her thoughts. Although she did not marry Plantagenet for love, it seems that she would welcome and return his love, but he only cares about his career. She does not think she makes him a good wife and this weighs heavily on her, especially not having given him an heir. She even speaks- is she joking or serious?- of killing herself because she has failed in this. However, when so many are judging Alice for breaking her engagement with John, Glencora befriends her without condemning her.
She tries to do the proper thing, but she would love to drive a four-in-hand and doesn't because of the “looks”. She does slyly imitate the Duchess, as if she can't help herself!

My overriding impression of this section is that so many of the characters are looking for allies to further their particular agenda. George visits Alice to encourage her to befriend Plantagenet because he could be a good connection for George when he runs for Parliament again. Lady Macleod and Alice’s father both encourage her in getting to know her mother’s relatives because they can help her to grow upward. Alice concurs with their thought as she becomes more comfortable at the Priory. Plantagenet, of course, is looking for political allies in the Duke of Bungay and Mr. Bott. Mr. Bott, meanwhile, seeks an ally in Alice to become a guardian (spy?) of Glencora’s happiness. Jeffrey Palliser might want Plantagenet's help if he decides he would like to run for a seat in Parliament. Nothing like a little intrigue.


message 13: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Great observations Linda! Intrigue indeed, a very incestuous little world as observed by Trollope. When you can't 'marry out' the circle you move in becomes very narrow, especially for women who don't work.


message 14: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 181 comments Oh my, Madge, I had no idea that such libraries might be 'peopled' with book veneers. I just assumed that they were only used in businesses such as pubs and cafes. Very interesting.


message 15: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 181 comments Yes, I really like Glencora as a character. I felt uneasy though at the thought that Alice was prepared to get her hands dirty, so to speak, in suggesting very strongly that Glencora ought to be kept away from Monkshade, at all costs. Nowadays that would generally be looked on as interference of the highest order.


message 16: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 181 comments It's true that John Grey would not at all have suited Alice, but I really don't want her to end up with George. He seems only to be concerned with himself and what Alice could do for him.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2889 comments Mod
I agree with the comments so far. I am getting fonder of Alice and enjoy her friendship with the lonely Glencora. There might be a little Palliser if Planty could unbend a bit and actually have some fun with his wife.
The most unpleasant character so far, among the males, is Mr. Bott, who is sneaky and probably a tale-teller.

This book is getting addictive!


LindaH | 97 comments I am not enjoying Alice as much as others are. She did seem polite and intelligent in social exchanges after her arrival at Matching, and she came across in her conversation with Glencora as the more sensible of the two. I also admire her refusal to engage in any talk about her friend. (Such a pleasant contrast to Kate’s betrayal of her!) But she is uncivil to Lady Midlothian. Alice should have answered the woman’s letter! I appreciate her stance but surely there is a more gracious way to express principles. I realize that Glencora compromised under Midlothian pressure and is now unhappy. But is Alice’s impertinence the only way to counter that pressure?


message 19: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments But what could Alice have said in her letter that wouldn't equally upset the interfering old lady? She is anxious not to step into the matrimonial trap set for Glencora.


LindaH | 97 comments Madge,
That’s a good question. I actually wondered about what Alice could have said after I posted, and realized I hadn’t thought the point through. It does seem that Alice herself was short-sighted in her dismissal of Lady M’s letter, given the etiquette in Victorian society, and the likelihood of their meeting someday. I guess I imagined she would acknowledge their relationship with respect, but affirm her resolve not to be influenced. Being short-sighted myself, even at my age, I can forgive her. :)


message 21: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments :) I guess she could have just thanked her for the letter and said she would bear her suggestions in mind?. Or perhaps she had the hope that if they meet the old lady would have had a memory lapse:)


message 22: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
Madge UK wrote: ":) I guess she could have just thanked her for the letter and said she would bear her suggestions in mind?. Or perhaps she had the hope that if they meet the old lady would have had a memory lapse:)"

I think that that was the beauty of much Victorian letter writing-being able to say very little in very long drawn out letters!


Renee M | 751 comments I really enjoy the way Trollope has his triangles weaving around each other. The characters are so interesting with their distinctive personalities and their various understanding and misunderstanding of each other.


message 24: by Brian (last edited Nov 20, 2017 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian Reynolds | 728 comments I have conflicting feelings toward Alice. At first I thought she was too self-centered and mean but in this section I liked her more. She could be more diplomatic, though. As Linda and Madge suggest, just tell Lady M that "I'll bear your suggestions in mind" Now I understand that may lead to further 'butting in,' but it may not. Telling Lady M directly to "butt out' ends with the same result but also honks her and society off.
Since Alice has grown on me a bit, maybe Kate will too, if we hear from her again. Probably not enough to overcome her deviousness on behalf of that wastrel George.


message 25: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2889 comments Mod
Kate is overshadowed by her brother George, isn't she? She seems to do everything for his sake.


Brian Reynolds | 728 comments Yes, Kate is devious on her brother's behalf, but she is devious nonetheless.
Actually, as I think about it, it her deviousness is on her own behalf. She wants the marriage far more than either George or Alice since it would keep near her the 2 people she likes best.

Rosemarie, I see you have finished and rated this 4 stars. On to Lady Audley's Secret! Among others, I'm sure.


Bonnie | 228 comments There was sone discussion about principal and interest in a previous section. In Chapter 25 (“In Which Much of the History of the Pallisers is Told.”) we learn that Alice has a fortune of 10,000 pounds, and we know from the beginning she lives on 400 £ a year. So the 10k is in government bonds earning 4% (someone wondered if might be a stable 5%)? Aunt Greenow has 40k from dead husband, so assuming the same interest rate, 1600 a year.

Actually in terms of "heiresses" it isn't all that much; if George V. wants to marry for money he should try his luck winning the hand of some serious heiress before "resorting" to Alice. One of his horses cost almost as much as that annual income. Since he doesn't love her anyway!


message 28: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2889 comments Mod
I think George loves only one person-himself.


Bonnie | 228 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I think George loves only one person-himself."YES, those Vavasour cousins are a piece of work.


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