I Held One Back

Last night I finished reading:

One of Trollope’s shorter works, this deals with familiar themes concerning the status of women; socio-economic inequalities; intrigue and romantic entanglements. It is a tragic love story breaching differences in fortune, in social class, in geography, and in religion. As usual the prose flows along smoothly to the tale’s surprising, if inevitable, conclusion.

Given that the action takes place alternately in England and Ireland, the choice of the sensitive, and insightful Irish novelist and poet, Maeve Binchy to write the excellent introduction was most apt.

The generous quantity of Elisa Trimby’s drawings are faithful to the text. In particular she manages effectively to convey the emotions of her subjects. I was impressed with the appropriate flattening of perspective enabling her to depict a good depth of field.

In order not to give away the dénouement I have held back the last of the illustrations.

Much of this morning was devoid of Internet connection, which rather delayed my drafting of this review; and my listening to the England v. Sri Lanka men’s World Cup Cricket match.

In order to calm my nerves took a stroll round the garden.

The first two images of these day lilies are of those purchased from https://www.polliesdaylilies.co.uk which, containing our national collection, is situated very near to us.

These penstemons adorn Margery’s Bed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausages in red wine; crisp new potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

The American Senator

Earlier in the week I finished reading

and awaited a day of dull weather to feature it in a post. Today was such a day.

The eponymous character plays very little part in Trollope’s story, but he is a device used by the author to criticise English cultural aspects including, The Law, Parliament, social inequality and customs including fox hunting. Given that Trollope was apparently a passionate fox hunter one can only imagine which of the senator’s views are also those of Anthony Trollope. The position of women as chattels of their husbands and of the lower, equally unenfranchised classes; the destruction caused by fox hunting; the sale of positions in the army and in the church in Victorian times are all subject of Senator Gotobed’s criticism. As usual I will not spoil the story, but to say that the tangles of love and the scheming related to its matches, largely by women, feature largely. At more than 500 pages the novel may seem daunting, but I found it a remarkably easy read. The descriptive prose flows apparently effortlessly. The dialogue is clear, and the insight into human nature admirable. Possibly because the work was originally published in regular instalments the chapters are short, averaging 6 pages. I found this a helpful aid to bedtime reading in that when I was falling asleep it was not too difficult to reach the end of each one. I enjoyed the book.

Louis Auchincloss’s introduction is thorough and helpful.

The elegant drawings of Shirley Tourret faithfully portray details of the text and of the period.

This afternoon Danni, her friend Vivien, and Ella visited. We had an enjoyable conversation and passed a laughing baby around.

This evening Jackie and I dined on starters of tempura prawns on a bed of cucumber, spring onion, and lettuce strips coated in sweet chilli sauce followed by creamy fish pie, mashed potato and swede; firm carrots and cauliflower. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot Bonarda.

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.

Heirloom Or Paraphernalia

No less an accomplished novelist than P.D.James has provided a positive introduction to my Folio Society 1990 edition of Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Eustace Diamonds’. Ms James has accurately analysed the characters featured in the book, and rightly, highlighted Trollope’s understanding of the nature of women and the plight of those without an income in Victorian Britain.

Trollope’s novel is a lengthy saga based on the ownership and the search for the thieves of the eponymous jewellery. His usual skills of characterisation, dialogue, and flowing language are employed. I have to say, however, that my interest waned somewhere about the middle of the story, when I struggled with the writer’s philosophising. I began to feel that I didn’t care who owned the, or who had stolen them, if, indeed, they had been purloined. Nevertheless, I did persevere, and on balance, was pleased I had done so.

The Folio Sociaty remained committed to Llewellyn Thomas for the illustrations to this Palliser series. I have explained before why I do not like these.

This is just as well given that I spent most of the day wrestling with the installation of High Sierra, the new Operating System for iMac. By late afternoon, the outside light having disappeared, I had, with the help of Apples technical help advisers, learned that the procedure, now underway, would take another 9 hours. Not having the stomach to scan old film images and struggle with the Windows 10 alternative, I have produced no illustrations today.

But I did get to read the last 100 pages of the book.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story was the question about whether th diamond necklace was a genuine heirloom or paraphernalia. These are legal terms that Mr Trollope understood far more than I.did.

I gleaned enough from the book to establish the accuracy of Wkipedia’s comments on the subject:

‘In popular usage, an heirloom is something, perhaps an antique or some kind of jewelry, that has been passed down for generations through family members.

The term originated with the historical principle of an heirloom in English law, a chattel which by immemorial usage was regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Loom originally meant a tool. Such genuine heirlooms were almost unknown by the beginning of the twentieth century.[1]

In the English legal system, any owner of a genuine heirloom could dispose of it during his lifetime, but he could not bequeath it by will away from the estate. If the owner died intestate, it went to his heir-at-law, and if he devised the estate it went to the devisee. The word subsequently acquired a secondary meaning, applied to furniture, pictures, etc., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things were more properly called settled chattels.[1] As of 1 January 1997, no further settled land can be created and the remaining pre-existing settlements have a declining importance in English law.[2]

An heirloom in the strict sense was made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel could be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money.[3] The court would only sanction such a sale, if it could be shown that it was to the benefit of all parties concerned and if the article proposed to be sold was of unique or historical character. The court had regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men[1][4]’ 

In the book, the debate centred around the Eustace family’s contention that the diamonds were an heirloom, and the widow, Lizzie Eustace’s claim that they were paraphernalia, described by the on-line free legal dictionary as

In the English legal system, any owner of a genuine heirloom could dispose of it during his lifetime, but he could not bequeath it by will away from the estate. If the owner died intestate, it went to his heir-at-law, and if he devised the estate it went to the devisee. The word subsequently acquired a secondary meaning, applied to furniture, pictures, etc., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things were more properly called settled chattels.[1] As of 1 January 1997, no further settled land can be created and the remaining pre-existing settlements have a declining importance in English law.[2]

‘An heirloom,  in the strict sense was made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel could be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money.[3] The court would only sanction such a sale, if it could be shown that it was to the benefit of all parties concerned and if the article proposed to be sold was of unique or historical character. The court had regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men[1][4]’

The Free Legal Dictionary (https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/paraphernalia) describes paraphernalia as ‘the name given to all such things as a woman has a right to retain as her own property, after her husband’s death; they consist generally of her clothing, jewels, and ornaments suitable to her condition, which she used personally during his life.
     2. These, when not extravagant, she has a right to retain even against creditors; and, although in his lifetime the husband might have given them away, he cannot bequeath such ornaments and jewels by his will.’

This evening we dined on breaded chicken breasts served on a bed of onions, garlic, and peppers; with roast potatoes and mushrooms; ans spinach. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

Meal Of The Day

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Susan Rushton’s post earlier today featured colchicums. There are a number of different varieties of these autumn crocuses.

Colchicums 1Colchicums 2Colchicums 3

Ours are different, and a bit battered by wind and rain. I think they are speciosum. Here they are Susan.

Spider 1

Whilst on my way to obtain the first two images above, I spotting a spider waiting on its web. As I watched it hauled itself up aloft and I just left it to get on with it.

Colchicums 3

Later, I walked the same way to capture the flowers in a different light.

Spider with bee prey

The spider was gloating over its meal of the day. That was one bee that would seek no more pollen.

Snapdragons and spider

It is, of course, the season for these insectile predators. I couldn’t even photograph these snapdragons without one poking its nose in.

Garden view through arch towards Oval Bed

The antirrhinums appear to the right of this view through the arch framing the Oval Bed.

Weeping Birch Bed

The kniphofia to the left is one of many in the Weeping Birch Bed

Kniphofias and begonia 2

blending with the begonia in a hanging basket behind.

Fuchsia 1Fuchsia 2

We still have many thriving fuchsias

New Bed

including one festooning the New Bed.

This afternoon I finished reading ‘Phineas Finn’, the second of Anthony Trollope’s six Palliser novels. This follows the fortunes of the eponymous hero as he ventures into the Victorian Parliamentary world. Without giving away any of the story I can say that, against the background of conflict over reform bills in the 1860s, we have love triangles; fraught courtships; political and matrimonial intrigue; and a view of social history of a time when Members of Parliament needed independent incomes in order to fund their campaigns and carry out their duties if elected; and when women were dependent upon submission to their husbands.

Trollope’s lengthy work is rendered readable by his elegant, flowing, prose, which may not suit some of today’s readers requiring shorter, more racy works.

The author is clearly in sympathy with the status of women, especially those trapped in unhappy marriages. Perhaps that is why, as stated by J. Enoch Powell – himself a controversial politician active a century after the period of the book – the female characters have rather more depth of study than do the males.

Powell’s introduction is sound, and he was aptly chosen by the Folio Society whose 1989 edition I was reading.

In my review of ‘Can You Forgive Her?’, I expressed my disappointment in the illustrations of Llewellyn Thomas. I am no less enamoured of those he has made for the current volume, so I won’t reproduce any.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main meal was Goan lamb, while Jackie’s was Chicken shashlik. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and onion bhaji; and both drank Kingfisher and the customary complimentary Bailey’s.

Mains Gas

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Last night I finished reading ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ by Anthony Trollope. Originally published in serial form, like other Victorian novels, this saga of family and politics was the forerunner of today’s television series. The book was the first of the Palliser sequence. It is longer than most readers would like in the modern world, but it repaid the time investment. I won’t give away any details, but can say that the author writes fluently and keeps us interested in the interrelated lives of his protagonists.
David Skilton’s introduction to my Folio Society edition is helpful and informative.
 I have to say, however, that the illustrations by Llewellyn Thomas were most disappointing. The drawings are heavy, wooden, and badly sketched. I attach two examples to make my point. In the first, we are to believe that the gentleman descending from the carriage is pointing at the other man, at whom he is not even looking. In the other, is it really credible that any of the limbs really belong to any of they figures from which they awkwardly dangle?
This afternoon we attended Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton where we underwent new patients’ assessments by Matthew Hefferan. More of what is required anon.
Lymington Lifeboat Station
After this we drove to Lymington where I wandered along a section of the harbour opposite the lifeboat station.
Lifeboat jackets
Its shop is seen on the right. Not visible in that shot are the jackets hanging in the window the left.
Slipway
At the bottom of the slipway pontoon
Reflected bins
stands a row of waste bins that were reflected in the still water on the other side.
 I had to admire the skill required to pack in the rows and rows of moored boats.
The juxtaposition of two signs, not too far apart, rather intrigued me,
so I had to Google:
“The kill cord, or ‘engine safety cut-out switch’ to give it its proper name, is a device used to stop the engine in the event of the helmsperson being thrown out of their seat. It consists of a length of cord or plastic wire connected to a kill switch on the engine or dashboard of the boat.19 Nov 2014

Kill cords: Everything boatowners need to know – Motor Boat & Yachting

Black headed gull
A few black headed gulls paddling around the silt were the only visible sign of life in and around the harbour.
 The Wight Link ferry made its way out towards the Solent.
Mains gas has not yet come to us in Downton. It was, however brought to the town of Lymington in 1832. This monument celebrates the event and expresses
Lymington gas monument 3
the gratitude of the people to its benefactor.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s Post House Pie, with Yorkshire pudding, crisp carrots, green beans, and broccoli. I drank Lion’s Lair shiraz 2013.

Barchester Towers.

CLICK ON ANY OF THE DRAWING IMAGES TO ACCESS THE GALLERY THAT BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

It may not have escaped some readers’ awareness that I have been struggling against a ailment of some sort for the last few days. This morning, Jackie made an appointment, forced me into the car, and drove me to the GP’s surgery where I was given a prescription for antibiotics which I collected from the adjacent pharmacy.

‘Anthony Trollope’s own goals’ is the title of a post on www.adrianbarlowsblog.blogspot.co.uk. Adrian is Jackie’s eminently erudite cousin whose piece gave me the nudge I needed to get on and read my complete set of the writer’s works before I run out of time. When I conveyed this intention to the blogger, he advised me to start with ‘Barchester Towers’, then move on to ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ Today I finished reading the first.

Here is a link to Wikipedia on the great Victorian novelist: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Trollope

Anthony TrollopeI had been under the impression that the only one of his forty seven novels I had already read was ‘The Warden’, some forty years ago. It was not until I found a slender bookmark towards the end of ‘Barchester Towers’, that I realised I had read that one as well. Never mind, I had forgotten it, so enjoyed it afresh. The writer’s style, a little lengthy for today’s taste, is superb. Trollope has an insightful knowledge of human nature combined with the ability to convey the emotional life of his characters with clarity, compassion, and passion. He has subtle humour and evokes the manners of the the time with a keen descriptive eye. The book in question is well crafted, keeping the reader interested in the tale he is telling. As usual, I will not give away any details.

My set is from The Folio Society. This one is dated 1977, and has an introduction by Julian Symons.

The text is embellished by Peter Reddick’s delicate drawings, nicely evoking both the setting and the characters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s marvellous macaroni cheese, green beans, broccoli, carrots, and ham. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; I finished the Costières de Nîmes; and Becky and Ian didn’t imbibe.