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This is one of the few Trollope novels I had not read. It re-introduces several characters from earlier Barchester Chronicles, wrapping up their storylines. But, to be honest, I had encountered them so many years ago, I couldn't really remember them. So I am pleased to report that this book holds up entirely on its own, as a lovely, comic and touching conclusion to Trollope's clerical novels. I found myself walking miles further because I was on tenterhooks about the fate of these gentle (or ambitious or exasperating) characters, shrewdly characterized by Timothy West. And it contains a long passage about the end days of an aging cleric, whose goodness, mildness and acceptance are both utterly believable, and piquantly contrasted with those among whom he lives, that I pulled over to weep. Whereas Dickens often portrays goodness as treacle, Trollope never loses sight of his characters as people in a closely observed world.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
I have listened to all six of the Chronicles one after the other with no other books read or listened to between them. One could almost say it was a baptism by complete immersion. That it might have been, but it has meant that it has convinced me that Trollope was a man of total brilliance.
I was in search of a new Jane Austen or rather of gentle comedy of manners in a historical setting. I didn't want abject poverty and daily struggle, or anger, swindle and darsteadly deeds - I've tasted Dickens and he's not to my taste and the Bronte clan with their overwhelming poverty doesn't leave me enlightened just melancholic but Anthony Trollope has delighted me to my very core.
Trollope is a master of characterisation and observation. His main characters are fleshed out and truly appear three dimensional and his minor characters only slightly less so. The pace of the action never gallops along but neither does it dawdle. His humour is gentle, sometimes obvious but always witty. Several times I have been caught laughing out loud.
The Last Chronicle was a bit bleaker than the previous ones but throughout it all and that despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation you knew somehow it would turn out right for all concerned. Characters from the entire series appeared in this last book and it was delightful to have them drop by.
Trollope has the wonderful habit of finishing each novel by tying up the ends of each of the story lines nice and neatly. You are not left wondering what might have happened. At the end of this last book everyone of the story lines were finished off and there was a sense of completeness, total conclusion and satisfaction. I was sad that it was over but there was no sense of doubt, wonder or concern about the fate of a character which was rather uplifting. I wish more books and even movies would do this!
A word about Timothy West - he has to be one of the best narrators. To take on the task of narrating over 120 hrs of book with probably as many characters must be daunting at least but he took it in his stride and brought the books alive with his characterisations. Narration is not acting, there's no positioning, no visual aids to assist with the action, it is voice alone. The voice of the author telling his story and the speech of the different characters, Timothy West did it all with the greatest of aplomb. He was perfect for these books.
Listening to the Chronicles has made me a fan of Trollope and I shall be seeking out more of his books. If you like Jane Austen you will like Anthony Trollope, her literary honorary grandson if you will! If you are looking for a gentle tale among England's green and pleasant pastures in the 1850s this is for you, no windswept moors, no blackened cities, no continually failing crops or trouble at mill. I will be back to visit Barsetshire again in the future and after over 100 hrs of listening you can't get a bigger recommendation than that!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Timothy West and Trollope simply work. This series of the Barchester novels could compete for the title of Best Ever Audiobooks. The Last Chronicle is the darkest of the series, but Timothy West again brings a warm humanity to the voice of the author and a penetrating individuality to each of the characters without ever falling into exaggeration or caricature, that makes you want to listen to the end (and it's a long book).
Now that we've got to the end of Barchester please can we have the Pallisers and The Way We Live Now?
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
This is a brilliant book read by a brilliant reader. I've now listened to all the Anthony Trollope books and there is no one better at reading them than Timothy West; get this one and no other version. Anthony Trollope's books are long but a sheer delight: he is able to capture a time long gone but which still resonates today. My advice is to listen to them all as they fit together and you meet old friends as well as new characters.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
A great reading of a great story. The Last Chronicle is a beautiful drawing together of the threads running through The Chronicles of Barsetshire. Timothy West's reading and characterisation is masterful.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
It was superbly read and superbly written . On both aspect it is fantastic
I love the reader's voice and envy his talent for taking on characters - there are others readers who are also blessed with this talent. We do need an Oscar type award and ceremony.?