Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite by Anthony Trollope.

1871 edition.
The last Anthony Trollope novel I read was in December - The Duke's Children, the final book of the Palliser series which was for me an absolute disaster. Thus it was not without some trepidation that I approached Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, first published in 1871 between Phineas Finn (1869), which I hated, and The Eustace Diamonds (1873), which I loved. My worry was that, being as I am quite a big Trollope fan, it was all over and I no longer loved him. 

The first thing to say is that I did enjoy Sir Harry. I didn't love it, but I have a reason why that is external to Trollope: I read it in rather strange circumstances. I started it one night last week I think and was really into it, and the next day (I do believe it was a Saturday) I took it out when we went shopping as I always have a fear of being stuck somewhere and having nothing to read and lo, I ended up being stuck somewhere: outside Screwfix (a DIY shop) for 90 minutes. Thus I can't say I was 100% focused on Sir Harry, which is rather shame. Nevertheless yes, I enjoyed it.

Trollope's Sir Harry Hotspur is of course a reference to Sir Henry Percy, known also as Sir Harry Hotspur, and was a key rebel during the War of the Roses (in literature, see Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I). Harry Hotspur possibly also, oddly enough, gave his name to Tottenham Hotspur F.C., but there I digress. Trollope's Sir Harry is by the start of the novel an old man with a wife and daughter Emily. His son, before the start of the novel, had died and so Sir Harry hopes that Emily will marry well and her husband would take her name, and he could be the heir of the Hotspur estate. Emily's distant cousin George Hotspur has designs on her and her fortune and hopes to her marry her. Despite his well-deserved reputation as a gambler, swindler, and schemer she does in fact fall in love with him and hopes her love will save him from moral ruin, though, quite understandably, Sir Harry has some deep reservations on the match.

For me Sir Harry Hotspur of Humbletwaite is classic Trollope. The themes - complicated love matches, marriage, and inheritance are familiar (I'm specifically thinking of Lady Anna, 1874, Is He Popenjoy?, 1878, and Cousin Henry, 1879 here), as are Trollope's excellently drawn characters, though don't make the mistake of thinking the ending is predictable. It's a short novel (my edition was 246 pages which by Trollope's standards is practically flash fiction, and as it happens it did read more like a short story), and I think it might have done a little better were it a bit longer and more developed. Even so it was a good novel to put my awful experience with the Pallisers well and truly behind me. 

Comments

  1. I was really underwhelmed by SHHoH. It just seemed joyless to me. I still haven't read the last two Pallisers but now I'm a little nervous based on your remarks. I was underwhelmed by Phineas Finn but really liked The Eustace Diamonds and Phineas Redux. I've already pre-ordered the restored edition of The Duke's Children. Fingers crossed!

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    1. It is rather joyless, I do agree, but I still liked it :) I wouldn't take much notice of my Palliser experience - seems I'm well and truly in the minority with my opinions, and I did quite like The Duke's Children I think (I can't quite remember it). Good luck anyway! :D

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