Thursday, December 31, 2015

A young lady gets her way - a short episode from Orley Farm

I really thought that yesterday's post would be my last from 2015, but today I read the most delightful chapter in Orley Farm, and I just had to share it with someone. (I'm on p.188 of the second volume, with just over 200 pages to go.)

I will redact the names, so that this won't be a complete spoiler.

Trollope has not identified a heroine in this book, but he tells his readers early in the first volume that one character will "be the most interesting personage in this story." She has all the hallmarks of a Trollopian heroine. She has fallen in love with a young man but of course has not shown him any signs of her partiality. Her family has noticed, however, and she has been given to understand that she cannot marry this young man. Her mother in particular objects to him, because he is not well-off, not settled in life, and not handsome.

Our young woman accepts this. "She acknowledged from the very first that he was not the sort of man whom she ought to have loved, and therefore she was prepared to submit." But like Lily Dale, her heart has been given, and she will be no other man's wife. "As regarded herself, she must be content to rest by her mother's side as a flower ungathered." She isn't going to rest, literally, though. "Then she went away, and began to read a paper about sick people written by Florence Nightingale."  This is where it gets fun, and funny.
But it was by no means [her mother's] desire that her daughter should take to the Florence Nightingale line of was by no means matter of joy to her when she found that [her daughter] was laying out for herself little ways of life, tending in some slight degree to the monastic. Nothing was said about it, but she fancied that [daughter] had doffed a ribbon of two in her usual evening attire. That she read during certain fixed hours of the morning was very manifest. As to that daily afternoon service at four o'clock - she had very often attended that, and it was hardly worthy of remark that she now went to it every day. But there seemed at this time to be a monotonous regularity about her visits to the poor. . .All this made [her mother] uneasy; and then, by way of counterpoise, she talked of balls, and offered [daughter] carte blanche as to a new dress for the special one that would grace the assizes. 'I don't think I shall go, said [daughter]; and thus [her mother] became really unhappy. Would not [the unsuitable young man] be better than no son-in-law?
The final straw comes at dinner on Friday evening, when the young woman refuses the minced veal, eating "nothing but potatoes and sea-kale" [observing the Friday abstinence from meat]. "Then [the mother] resolved that she would tell [her husband] that [the unsuitable young man], bad as he might be, might come there if he pleased. Even [he] would be better than no son-in-law at all."

The daughter breaks her mother down in a mere two weeks. I can't decide how deliberate this is, though. As Trollope writes it, the young woman is genuinely good and truly means to be obedient. But like many of his heroines, she is stronger than her elders - or just too much for them.

However, neither the mother nor the daughter knows what we the readers know about the unsuitable young man, and a secret that he has been keeping.

One final point: this is the second reference to sea-kale in this book. Previously, it was fed to an invalid. I had to look it up, to see if it was the same as the super-food kale that turns up everywhere now. It's a different variety, from what I read once very popular and now making a bit of a come-back.

This will definitely be my last post for 2015, so once again I will say Happy New Year!


  1. Oh, I'm going to decide that it was deliberate... and I just added this Trollope to my list. Thanks for this treat and happy new year!

    1. Reading this is really bringing out the book evangelist in me!

      I'm very curious to see how Trollope is going to bring this story line (one of course of several) to what I expect will be a happy ending :)

  2. You may have just convinced me to read Orley Farm instead of Rachel Ray. Am I ready for another chunkster though?? Either way, I think I'll skip the goodreads challenge this year. Bring on the big books! ;-)

    1. This is definitely a chunkster, particularly next to Rachel Ray :) which is a great story too!

      I'm not signing up for any challenges this year, I think - beside the Dare - which as James reminds us, isn't a challenge anyway!


Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. I always enjoy hearing different points of view about the books I am reading, even if we disagree!