During the power cut yesterday evening I finished reading

being the fourth of Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novels.

I have to say I found this one rather ponderous in its political and philosophical passages, giving the impression that the periodical pattern of its publication promoted such prolixity.

Trollope’s familiar themes of love, marriage, and matriarchal machinations; the mores of the period; the importance of appearance over authenticity, and status over sincerity; devious deception, and struggles of conscience, are treated in this continuing chronicle of clerical kinship.

To my mind the author is at his best when dealing with the characters of his subjects, in particular through his easy command of dialogue, and his descriptions of his period.

Julian Symons has written a helpful introduction in which he acknowledges that he is at odds with many critics.

The Folio Society aims to commission illustrators commensurate in style with the periods of their publications. Peter Reddick’s elegantly delicate drawings perfectly fit the bill. Each is placed within the text of a single page, on a rather smaller scale than these I produce here.

A comparison of these with the same man’s woodcuts for Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ provides ample examples of this illustrator’s versatility

On this dull but dry day Jackie continued with her planting as in this orange themed chimney pot,

and tidying along the Gazebo Path. She watched the blue tit at top right of this picture

feeding on sunflower seed hearts which it

carried up to the wisteria,

placing it beneath its foot with which it gripped the nugget while it nibbled away. This was done repeatedly.

Our very own Nugget, still skittish and clearly occupied elsewhere, is back investigating Jackie’s activities.

“Where’s Nugget?” (70)

The pieris behind the Nottingham Castle bench in the picture above is one example of the red/green complimentary colours that Jackie photographed along with all today’s photographs.


Another is shown by these geranium palmatum leaves turning red to warm up in cold weather.

The red Japanese maple stands beneath the golden one behind it;

 the red leaves and gold flowers of this heuchera repeat that combination.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower, carrots, runner beans, and red cabbage with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cap Royal Bordeaux Supérieur 2016.


Barchester Towers.


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 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:

Anthony Trollope

I 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.