“There is nothing in the world so difficult as that task of making up one's mind…”
In the second of Trollope's "Palliser" novels Trollope explores the realities of political life, and the clash between compromise and conviction, that is as topical today as it was in the 1860s.
With Phineas Finn, Trollope created one of his most interesting characters, a talented but naive doctor's son from Ireland with Parliamentary aspirations who must make numerous practical and ethical choices regarding his career, his political beliefs, and his romantic life, in hopes of emerging with his character, reputation, and prospects intact.
Finn becomes romantically involved with several women: his patron, Lady Laura Standish, who marries another; Violet Effingham, who weds a volatile nobleman; Madame Marie Goesler, a wealthy, sophisticated widow; and his long-suffering sweetheart, Mary Flood-Jones.
The sexual politics in the books are amazingly frank: Phineas rises because he is a good and able man but also because he is devastatingly attractive to women.
Phineas is by turns shrewd about his power over women and ashamed of it.
For the permanent questions of the politics of existence, Trollope remains remarkably truthful: he based many of the Parliamentary characters that appear in the novel on real-life counterparts, such as Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, and John Bright.
ANTHONY TROLLOPE (1815-1882) was a British novelist and journalist, one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. He wrote insightful novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters. Among his masterworks are the Palliser novels, The Warden, Barchester Towers, and The Way We Live Now.