Frank Gresham must marry money. His father has already sold off part of Gresham Park and the rest is mortgaged to the hilt. His mother wants to keep – and use – the London house. His five sisters need dowries. And no one wants to lose face with their rich De Courcy relatives. So now that Frank is twenty-one, all agree that he must marry money.
All except Frank, that is. He’s in love with Mary Thorne, the bastard niece of a country doctor. Anthony Trollope recounts the trials and tribulations of these unlucky lovers in his 1858 novel, Doctor Thorne, the third book in his Chronicles of Barsetshire.
Like the first two in the series, The Warden and Barchester Towers, Doctor Thorne is lively, witty, occasionally snarky, and thoroughly engrossing. It feels even more contemporary, perhaps because of the racy matter of illegitimacy, or because it gets away from the ecclesiastical themes of the first two in favor of more secular topics. Side stories dealing with product recognition and election financing feel particularly current.
There are a couple of potboiler parts where the story gets repetitive and the whole thing drags on just a bit too long, but overall Doctor Thorne is a terrific read, either as part of the Chronicles or as a stand-alone.
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I listened to the audiobook available for instant download at my library, so this was one of my books for the AudioBook Challenge. There is also a free kindle edition on amazon.