The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister
“He knew how to speak, and how to look, how to use a knife and fork, how to dress himself and how to walk. But he had not the faintest notion of the feelings of a gentleman...”
The Prime Minister is the fifth in Trollope's six-volume Palliser series and a subtle portrait of marriage, political expediency, and inappropriate love.
One of the nineteenth century's most memorable outsiders, Ferdinand Lopez, an unprincipled a social climber and financial speculator who lacks a basic core of decency, aspires to marry into respectability and wealth, and join the ranks of British society.
Lopez's story is set against that of the ultimate insider, Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, who reluctantly accepts the highest office of state, to lead a Liberal/Tory coalition—a mission he accepts with great reluctance and performs with distaste.
His wife the Duchess Lady Glencora goes on a spending spree throwing elaborate parties to promote her husband’s popularity.
Lopez worms his way into getting invited to these lavish affairs and uses his charm and good looks to become a favorite of the Duchess.
The loving, eligible Emily Wharton is successfully wooed by the always on-the-make Lopez, and has to come to terms with the ramifications of her disastrous marriage. Almost immediately, Emily realizes that she has made a dreadful mistake. Lopez loves her but also needs her fortune to prop up his extremely speculative business dealings.
In opposition to both her husband’s request and the new reform laws, the Duchess attempts to use her influence to get Lopez into Parliament. Glencora is impulsive and even after many years of marriage, still does not understand the deeply strict moral code of her husband.
This causes problems when she encourages Ferdinand Lopez to stand for Parliament in the Palliser family seat of Silverbridge against her husband's wishes.
Marital strife, scandal, and unforeseen consequences ensue.
Trollope’s genius is in treating all his characters with understanding and sympathy, while under-cutting any pretensions to which they and society cling.
While he has bigger things to say about power as exercised by politicians in the public sphere, at heart his stories are deeply personal and humane.
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.