Rather, it is about a young Irish gentleman who who gets himself elected to the British House of Commons and the manner that he navigates through the very exciting legislative time period surrouding the Second Reform Bill! (which I reviewed here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/..., and which is actually probably a tedious read and has background in some 'ancient goodreads history' (ie., things that happened about four months ago), although interestingly enough that might be the last review I've written that I cared at all about while I was writing it, I mean and this one, and any other one you've read by me in the past three and a half months, none of these were just phoned in or anything like that), to understand or follow what is going on here, there are a couple of spoilers in the basic plot of this book to events that happen in the first book. But if you don't mind having the plot of the first novel spoiled and you just can't wait to get into a novel about the Second Reform Bill era, then read this first! This was sad, since the book had all the juicy footnotes giving historical information about the Second Reform Bill and it's major players (like you or I really need this sort of crib sheet, pshaw!). I think if the novel had been conceived and executed as a whole a few of my gripes would have been cleared up, these were sort of things like, hey we need a character here that can do this to move the plot along, so blam, new major character! Even if the story line doesn't sound that interesting (if it doesn't it is because you are some sort of cretin who doesn't realize that the Second Reform Bill era in the House of Commons was truly epic!), Trollope's writing is once again a joy to read.
I am sitting here thinking of all those like me who before trying Trollope have no idea that such exists. IF you have not read Trollope - please do me a favor and try one. You read them for their humor. Trollopes books are the only "Victorian novels" that really appeal to me. Trollope's women are intelligent, thinking creatures. Money and love and marriage and the choices open to women of this era - Britain 1860s - this is the feminine side of the book's central theme. You may think that in portraying different kinds of people they turn into stereotypes, but they don't because you watch them being torn between choices. The central character is Phineas Finn. Here the central question is to what extent you follow the dictates of your party. Secondly because Trollope through his characters and through the plot interweaves philosophical questions. The book looks at different characters and different choices, with humor and without rancor. Both have great humor, but this one has a bit more substance, more to think about.
Ok, so those might be bigger questions than Trollope had in mind when he wrote Phineas Finn. And there was, too, a look of breeding about him which had come to him, no doubt, from the royal Finns of old, which ever served him in great stead. He was, indeed, only Phineas Finn, and was known by the world to be no more; but he looked as though he might have been anybody, - a royal Finn himself. With all of Trollope there are the love interests.
I started the first half of 2018 with Trollope's Barsetshire series and decided to read his Palliser one next, having finished the second of six, I think I can state that like the first series, you could read each book alone but the story will be missing somethings unknown to you but if following in order the picture is complete. The Duke of Omnium is present in the Barsetshire series but in a negative way which he makes his appearance in "Phineas Finn" more interesting because the lid of this man has been opened for us to understand him a little better. If interested in the six books, you can look at my "Palliser" shelf. The "Palliser" series is a political one compared to "Barsetshire" which is based on religion. To have come within the reach of the good things of political life, to have made his mark so as to have almost insured future success, to have been the petted young official aspirant of the day, and then to sink down into the miserable platitudes of private life, to undergo daily attendance in law-courts without a brief, to listen to men who had come to be much below him in estimation and social intercourse, to sit in a wretched chamber up three pairs of stairs at Lincolns Inn, whereas he was now at this moment provided with a gorgeous apartment looking out into the Park from the Colonial Office in Downing Street, to be attended by a mongrel between a clerk and an errand boy at 17s. And now when the game was so nearly won, must it be that everything should be lost at last?" Again as in book one, we have a young man that looks to make his name and fame through politics but even though Phineas Finn is ambitious, he is quite different than the young gentleman in "Can We Forgive Her?" I found them both exasperating but even though Phineas is so, he is more likeable, that is for sure. Look under my Trollope shelf above if interested. " My quick synopsis- Phineas Finn is a handsome young man from Ireland that finds his way into London rooms where he is enticed to enter into Parliament and all the characters both political and social make a mark in his life.
When he obtains the seat at Loughshane due to the influence of his father, he finds himself moving in an illustrious crowd of famous politicians, nobility, and beautiful young women. But the celestial lights had been too strong for them, and now, having lived for five years with lords and countesses, with Ministers and orators, with beautiful women and men of fashion, he must start again in a little lodging in Dublin, and hope that the attorneys of that litigious city might be good to him. He would make the change, or attempt to make it, with manly strength.Phineas Finn is the second of Trollope's six Palliser novels and easily stands among his best work.
I enjoyed this novel of Phineas Finn, a young and somewhat naive young man who stands for Parliament in the mid 19th century.
As soon as we're thoroughly introduced to Lady Laura very early on, and Trollope takes care to point out that though she is very ladylike, she approaches politics as if she were a man, I thought, uh oh. Trollope depicts his female characters with a great deal of sympathy, but the thing that makes him ever second tier to me is the firm way he bends his variety of female characters to prove his conviction that the domestic sphere is the natural place for women, and as soon as they learn to submit to father then husband, the happier they'll be. Phineas has one of these heroines in Mary Flood Jones (though he grabbed her and kissed her before taking off, which would have made her spoiled goods in the Trollopeverse for anyone else), who does absolutely nothing but pine faithfully for him until the very end. Though Trollope writes, as most did at the time, from an omniscient narrative voice, the reader is expected to take Phineas at his own evaluation, as he navigates the muddy waters of Parliament, clubs, the social scene, the hunting field, country house visiting, and falling in love. Victorian readers over a certain age knew what ailed him, all right, when he's doing a thousand pushups, taking cold baths, and threatening to kill any man who so much looks at Violet. Another pair of characters I thoroughly enjoyed were Madame Max and Lady Glencora Palliser (from the first of the series) who are a great deal of fun. (And Lady Glencora is NOT in love with Phineas, I am relieved to report.) SOmewhat problematical was Lady Laura's and Violet's friendship.
Thank goodness there is a fourth volume of the Palliser series that leads the reader to hope for a turn of fortune: Phineas Redux. Then we get into Parliamentary affairs, and the deeper psychology of women in love and men at politics, and the book takes off. Trollope is so good at portraying the dilemma of how a man without a personal fortune can do any good in Parliament (where there was no pay for simply being a member, no matter how much time it took). The men are almost as good, as either political types or simply great characters. Trollope is excellent at portraying the neophyte Phineas as he stumbles through his first few sessions, ever so gradually revealing to the reader his education and the experience that leads to his good service and his eventual Great Decision. To a reader new to Trollope: it is essential that you swot up (study as for an exam) the Parliamentary system, election rules, and reform movement of nineteenth century Britain if you are to fully understand and appreciate this novel.
While there was a romantic element to the book (which didnt turn out the way I had hoped, but alas me!), the real love affair here is Phineas zeal for civil service. I am very pleased to know that Phineas Redux is coming up as the fourth book in the Palliser series!
Anthony Trollope became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.