Alice Vavasor cannot decide whether to marry her ambitious but violent cousin George or the upright and gentlemanly John Grey—and so finds herself accepting and rejecting each of them in turn. She is increasingly confused about her own feelings and unable to forgive herself for such vacillation—a situation contrasted with that of her friend Lady Glencora, forced by “sagacious heads” to marry the rising politician Plantagenet Palliser in order to prevent her true love, the worthless Burgo Fitzgerald, from wasting her vast fortune. In asking his readers to pardon Alice for her transgression of the Victorian moral code, Trollope created a telling and wide-ranging account of the social world of his day.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By David on 27-09-11
Very Very Victorian
This is a long, long book, and the first in a series, though I understand that they mostly stand alone so you don't really have to read them in order. It centers around three women: one married, one single, and one widowed, and for each of them, the central question is the same - do I go with Mr. Dull and Dependable or do I go with Mr. Good Looks Who Will Spend All My Money and Ruin Me?
It might have been a more exciting book if Trollope was a more radical author, but I'm not spoiling too much to say that Trollope was actually a very conservative author. Everyone ultimately Does the Right Thing in a very Victorian way, but not before flirting with impropriety enough to raise the question asked by the title: Can You Forgive Her?
Besides jilted suitors and gentleman wastrels, there is a bit of Parliamentary politics in this book which I believe assumes greater importance in the future volumes.
Anthony Trollope had the gift of narrative and character development, so if your only exposure to Victorian social drama is Charles Dickens, then give Trollope a try. That said, I would probably start with The Way We Live Now, which I thought was a better book with a more engaging story.
Simon Vance is one of my favorite audiobook readers, and he delivers great Victorian performances equally well with his readings of James Bond novels.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Edith on 05-05-15
I hesitated in buying this because I had had a hard time with "Barchester Towers." Needn't have worried. I've been binge-listening to "Can You Forgive Her", which I find to be a truly compelling story, rich with character development, irony, humorous passages, sub-plots and endless insight into the ways and mores of Victorian English society. Simon Vance, while reading rapidly, delivers his usual excellent rendering. Lovers of long, 19th century novels will find this as satisfying as Dickens, Eliot or Hardy. Can't wait to listen to the next books in the series.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful