book review: The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Warden (Modern Library Classics)The backstory: Anthony Trollope is one of my father's favorite authors, and when I heard the December theme for the Classics Circuit was Trollope, I found the perfect excuse to finally read one of his novels. Yes, I picked the shortest one, but it's also the first in a series, and I'm fascinated to tales of clergy in the British countryside.

The basics: I'll let Modern Library treat you to a synopsis: "The first of Trollope's popular Barsetshire novels, set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, The Warden centers on the honorably cleric Septimus Harding, one of Trollope's most memorable characters. When Harding is accused of mismanaging church funds, his predicament lays bare the complexities of the Victorian world and of nineteenth-century provincial life."

My thoughts: For a book with only 209 pages, the reading experience was quite varied for me. There were times I adored Trollope's language:
Mr. Harding had fully made up his mind to tel the bishop everything; to speak of his daughter's love, as well as his own troubles; to talk of John Bold in his double capacity of future son-in-law and present enemy; and though he felt it to be sufficiently disagreeable, now was his time to do it.
I was surprised that I laughed out loud from time to time. Although I wouldn't call it a comedy, there certainly were comedic elements, particularly when taken in context:
"One evening call," said he, "is worth ten in the morning. It's all formality in the morning; real social talk never begins till after dinner. That's why I dine so early, so as to get as much as I can out of it."
Most of the novel was quite engaging, but it also dragged at times. I imagine there cultural clues I missed, even with the fantastic introduction and notes provided in the Modern Library edition.

The verdict: I found myself filled with pride more than enjoyment at the novel's conclusion. Fans of Victorian literature will likely enjoy it and others will not. I fall somewhere in between, and while I loved some parts more than other, I'm certainly happy to have experienced Trollope and his writing.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Length: 209 pages
Publication date: originally published in 1855
Source: my local public library

To read more reviews of The Warden:
Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
Caribou's Mom

The full Trollope tour list is here. You may also sign up for the January tour (Ancient Greek classics until December 20.)

As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you!


  1. Trollope is definitely worth sticking with! I also found parts of The Warden a bit tedious, but I loved Barchester Towers. And I can't stop recommending The Way We Live Now -- it's one of the longest ones, but it's just wonderful.

  2. I am rather ashamed to admit that I had no knowledge of Trollope until fairly recently (seeing his work reviewed on another blog, actually). I've recently added quite a few of his works to the TBR pile for the few challeneges I'm participating in at the start of the new year. Your review is exactly what I expected to find myself. I feel the same way about Thomas Hardy at times- yet, I love his work. Thanks for the review; I'm looking forward to being able to share my own experience.

  3. Thanks for this review - it encapsulated my thoughts about the novel as well :) I really appreciated Trollope's humor, but I was not crazy about some of the detailed minutia...although on the whole, I thought it was a good classic read.

  4. I have been reading a lot of reviews of this book, and most of the opinions seem similar to yours. I have to say that I am still intrigued by this book, which is good because it is sitting on my shelf right now! Excellent review!

  5. I haven't read anything by Trollope! I think I'd have to be in a specific frame of mind to take on a book like this. Lovely review. :)

    Oh, and is response to your question about other Alice Hoffman novels I like, I'd HIGHLY recommend The River King and The Third Angel. They're both fantastic. :) Happy reading!

  6. I haven't read any Trollope but hope to soon. Did you feel like this one was a good one to start with?

  7. I've heard this one is slower than others -- but what a relief to hear there is humor! I haven't run in to much humor in the Palliser novels. But maybe I'm just being dense?


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