The fourth of Trollope's Palliser novels, Phineas Redux is one of his most spellbinding achievements.
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.
At the end of the first novel, our hero makes the decision to leave the high-society life, turning down the opportunity to marry the wealthy and beautiful widow, Madame Max Goesler; instead he goes home to Ireland to marry his hometown sweetheart and practice his trade as a small town barrister.
In Phineas Redux we find that his young wife has died in the first year of their marriage trying to give birth to her first child.
When some of his old friends in high places call on him to stand again for Parliament Phineas risks his small life savings to return to life among the rich and famous.
He resumes his political career and again becomes romantically involved with Lady Laura Standish (now Kennedy) and Madame Marie Max Goesler, whom he eventually marries.
Finn is falsely accused of the murder of a rival politician.
Eventually acquitted, he leaves political life in disgust.
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.
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.