"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

August 11, 2011

"The Three Clerks" by Anthony Trollope (Book Review)

Once there were three civil servants: the serious and reserved Henry Norman; the ambitious Alaric Tudor, busy making a career; and Charley Tudor, his nephew, busy sowing wild oats. There were also three beautiful young women, daughters of a widow, Mrs Woodward: the eldest, Gertrude, who is courted by Henry but rejects him in favor of Alaric, whose ambitions she shares; the soft Linda, who later marries Norman; and Katie, the youngest, who is forbidden the company of the wild Charley, until he reforms himself...

But as usually in Trollope it is not the love story that makes the book in the first place interesting. It is the picture of the civil service based on Trollope's own time with the Postal Service; the story of Alaric's ambitions that lead him to deal in stocks with foreknowledge and even spend money that has been entrusted to his care to play the stock market; and the fate of Charley who almost falls into the trap of a girl in a not very proper establishment.

The Three Clerks was published in 1858, and is also notable - to lovers of Trollope - for the first appearance of the barrister Mr Chaffanbrass.
Available as a free eBook from Gutenberg.