Stories

I spent this entire afternoon reading and listening to rain pattering on the windows.

Over several years some decades ago I was rash enough to collect Anthony Trollope’s entire oeuvre as presented by the Folio Society. It is the sheer volume of this work that prompts me to consider this enterprise rash. I doubt that I will ever finish reading all the books.

Like any other Victorian novelist in the age before blogging and television soaps, Trollope wrote at considerable length for the avid readers of his serialised instalments.

In order to try to catch up with my reading of this author, picked up again with a volume of stories, of a shorter length than the other books. I finished reading it today. This is

encased in

boards bound by cloth imprinted with this elegant design.

The contents are ‘The Parson’s Daughter of Oxney Colne; La Mere Bauche; Father Giles of Ballymoy; The Spotted Dog; and ‘Alice Dugdale’.

The apparently effortless prose flows along with excellent description, insightful characterisation, and well-placed dialogue. Trollope has a sound understanding of human nature and of his times. Without giving away any detail I can say that he deals will betrothal, match-making, scheming parents, gossip, and social standing. One apparent ghost story is ultimately humorous. Endings are not always happy, and there is one heart-rending tragedy. Most tales are set in England; there is one in France, and one in Ireland.

John Hampden’s well written introduction is informative about the author.

Regular readers will understand that I am enamoured of Joan Hassall’s careful wood engravings. Each story has a title page vignette; an introductory illustration; and, with one exception, a tailpiece.

Here they all are.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced a fusion of her own savoury rice and succulent ratatouille; Tesco’s aromatic won ton and spring rolls; and Lidl’s lean meaty rack of ribs in barbecue sauce. The Culinary Queen drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, and I finished the Garnacha.

51 thoughts on “Stories

  1. You have quite a collection of beautiful books. The title page vignettes are especially wonderful.
    I thought we were doing a cross-culture fusion dinner last night with homemade hummus and guacamole, but you have us beat with your culinary fusion. 🙂

  2. My aunt had many beautifully bound books on her shelves – she left school at 12 and was put to work as a kitchen maid but educated herself thoroughly throughout her life through reading and ‘paying attention’. I remember the almost ecstatic feeling of holding those books – of opening and seeing the end paper designs and the drawings and even the smell of them. Books today are sadly lacking in that department. Trollope, like Eliot, is a master of character building and human psychology. I just finished listening to Juliet Stevenson read Middlemarch and it was such a treat. I’ve read the book three times over the years and loved it more each time. Having her tell the story and enact the characters – well it was even better. I must look for some Trollope on Audible 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Pauline. You describe exactly the pleasure of the real thing. I joined The Folio Society when I was 18 and only left about ten years ago when I realised I would never have enough time to read any more. I started on one of the long novels last night.

  3. A novelist of the same era, Honoré de Balzac was paid by the line which tended to turn him into a bit of a windbag. I have never read Trollope but even Dickens can push your patience at times.
    I loved the little engravings, especially the spotted dog which brought to mind the pudding we used to have as kids.

  4. Keeping company with these amazing books and their beautiful artwork…while the rain plays a symphony for you…what a perfect day! 🙂

    After reading your blog, I am always hungry. I wonder why?!?! 😉 😀 HA! 😛
    HUGS for you ❤ and ❤ Jackie!!! 🙂

  5. Great post Derrick!! I believe you know that Thomas Bewick is known for pioneering the technique of wood engraving in the late 18th century.

    Kisses to Jackie !!!!

  6. Pingback: The history of the wood engraving – Iστορία της ξυλογραφίας | ΕfiSoul63

  7. Reading stories while the rain taps at your window and the rooftop ushers in memories of younger days, of reading Hemingway and Lawrence and Hardy and feeling eternally sad. I have never turned to Mr Trollope, although your description of the Victorian author is encouraging. Those beautifully carved figures would surely enrich and aid the imagination of the reader.

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