The Warden

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296 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By Larbi on 15-09-07

Delightful Reading of Trollope

I had always intended to read Trollope and never quite made the time. Listening to this engaging narration by Simon Vance made such a pleasure possible while driving to work. Although one must have a taste for much more intricate prose than is characteristic of today's fiction, Vance's interpretation makes all the different characters recognizable and brings out the humor and minute social observation that keeps Trollope's intrigues of small town and ecclesiastical life in England mid-19th Century so enjoyable even today.

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48 of 48 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Deborah on 02-01-12

The Series Begins . . .

The first of the Barchester series, The Warden seems obviously designed to set up the next five novels. It's fine on its own, but not the best of Trollope by any means. Mr. Harding, warden of an almshouse for 12 elderly disabled men, finds himself the target of a lawsuit promoted by his daughter's admirer. The claim is that the benefactor's will did not mean for the church to use the bequest to fund a warden, but that it was meant to go directly to the 12 men. Complicating the situation is the fact that the archdeacon, married to Harding's elder daughter, insists on fighting the suit, which gets nasty in the public press. The plot focuses on how Mr. Harding, a genuinely kind and good man, deals with the stress and his own conscience, and how his daughter Eleanor struggles between her fierce love for her father and her growing affection for John Bull, the lawyer behind the lawsuit.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By cebepe on 22-12-10


We all know the world is divided into two - those who cannot get enough of Trollope, and those who are somehow defective. That said, I cannot recommend Simon Vance's reading. He is a good nonfiction reader and he can read fiction too, as long as he does get into characters. The problem lies in his hopeless rendition of female voices, and he is not that great at men's voices either, so it rather spoils the telling. Sorry, Simon. I whole-heartedly recommend Timothy West's readings, who nails it every time.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Ilana on 04-09-12

May prove challenging to contemporary readers

A clergyman, Mr. Harding, is accused of abusing of his privilege of receiving a high income for very little work, and that church funds are being misappropriated; both accusations made by a young reformer who also happens to be in love with the clergyman's daughter, and influences those who are directly under the clergyman's protection and benefiting from his generosity. Mr. Harding is well-loved by all, and the combination of the savage media outcry that follows and his unimpeachable honesty pushes him to take actions which are against his best interests. Can't say I absolutely loved this novel, but I read it in the context of a tutored read on LibraryThing and the two tutors had a wealth of knowledge to share about the clergy and moral attitudes of the time and so on, which certainly helped this modern reader appreciate the story a lot more than I would have without my mentors. That being said, I look forward to listening to the next book in the series, Barchester Towers.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jessica on 15-03-12

Terrible reading of a great book!

How could the performance have been better?

I love Trollope and am usually not at all picky about the performances of recorded books, but I found this reading of The Warden unbearable! Simon Vance adopts a strange, high-pitched, affected tone of voice every time he reads the women's lines that makes Trollope's female characters come across as gross caricatures. The gentle but always intelligent Eleanor Harding sounded like a half-witted flirt, Mrs. Grantly sounded like a snooty society matron instead of a sensible clergyman's wife, and the love scenes were absolutely painful! Mr. Vance is a very good reader generally, and if only he could have rendered the female characters in a more natural tone of voice this would have been a fine and worthy reading. I switched to the Timothy West reading for the remainder of the Basetshire Chronicles, and am so glad I did. I really don't think I could have stood a simpering Mary Thorne!!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By T. on 26-02-12

Heartbreakingly Good

This novel was painful to read, as the injustice of it all is so clear, and so is the inevitability. But, like all such narratives, it is also comforting to be reminded that we are not the only ones to encounter injustice, and the model that the warden offers, as far as dealing with a moral question with honor is concerned, is a treasure to behold. Simon Vance is, as usual, a jewel of a narrator. I can't believe I haven't read Trollope until now. I'll certainly be reading more of his works in the future.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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