"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

July 14, 2011

"The Macdermots Of Ballycloran" by Anthony Trollope (Book review)

Anthony Trollope's first novel (1844) is set in Ireland, a country he got to know well thanks to his work as postal surveyor. Trollope (1815-1882) lived in Ireland from 1841 to 1851 and his marriage also took place in Ireland. He enjoyed his work and the freedom it afforded and could live well on the income it provided. So it seems quite logical that he would pour his love for land and people into his first novel.

The idea for the book came to him after seeing a ruined estate in Drumsna - the novel describes how the clan of the Macdermots (a senile father, Larry, a well-meaning but ignorant son Thady and a vaporous daughter, Feemy) meets it end. It is a tragic book, rare for Trollope, and the gentry is financially not much better off than the peasants. There is a lot of mud in these pages. But it is a lively book, with good dialogue, and the story gradually broadens. It certainly keeps hold of the interest of the reader with its illegal whiskey distillers, a smart captain hunting the distillers who plays the lover to Feemy, a false attorney after the Macdermot property, an elopement and a murder... yes it is a dramatic story, but this first effort is so good that it almost manages to be vintage Trollope.

Get a copy from Gutenberg.