Friday, 7 August 2015

Trollope as Comfort Food


Reading The Small House after The Way the pattern is clear. Marriage for love and money is the ideal but in a pinch money will do. Keep the money within the family by marrying your first cousin seems to have been a common thing in Victorian times. That may be harsh as respectable girls did not move around much back then and cousins were ‘safe’ and did not require chaperoning. You might say that it solidifies blood ties leading to a congealed social order but then consider that the great disruptor Charles Darwin married his first cousin.

I’m only just a little way into The Small House and the Trollope Two Step is evident. There is a machinating elder, a handsome but weak fiancée, the rejected suitor, a calculating suitor, the mother who is also an attractive widow and the good honourable man who cannot broach his heart’s wish until he achieves an income of several hundred pounds a year.

Why doesn’t this matter? There’s comfort reading as well as comfort food and the same qualities are valued. It fills, it tastes good, milky of human kindness and certainly Trollope gets the macaroni cheese novel award. The writing is excellent but nothing jumps out at you as especially insightful. In noticing everything he notices nothing in particular but the plenum is there right down to the fractals. I see the garden of ‘The Big House’ and the sportive garden of ‘The Small House’ and the bridge between the two, young John Eames the hobbledehoy and Lily who has yet to suffer.

There will be pudding, tapioca with I think a spoonful of blackcurrant jam. That is the Trollope surprise. Now read on:

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