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Simon Vance is one of the best readers, and I love Trollope, but somehow the audiobook lacked verve. I had read it avidly years ago. The political sections- especially about members of parliament who had been in opposition and were now in power- seemed only too timely.
It takes someone like Trollope to write at such length about such horrible behaviour, and at - to some people at any rate - will look like inexplicable loyalty without the reader becoming irritated or disconnected. I wasn't prepared by any of his previous novels for such a clear-eyed and comprehending descriptive of prolonged domestic abuse. He knows all about gaslighting and the many other sophisticated tactics of the abuser. He understands how little impulsive behaviour and "anger management" has to do with this, and how much planning, control and insight is actually involved.
The descriptions of how effectively the victim is isolated from support not only by the abuser but by the judgement of friends and family, who join in the bullying in the belief (which they share with the abuser, ironically) that that's what is required, were painful to read. Injustice, patience and the eventual triumph of right over wrong are such recurring themes of Trollope's novels that you can't but hang in there. It's like when your team is taking a cuffing on the pitch, 5 nil down and ten minutes left to go, but something inside you tells you to hang on in till the bitter end. When Trollope shows you a hero or heroine, they become that to you, too. Who cares whether they win or lose, you think: it's doing the right thing that counts. (But you still want to see a villain sprawled, unmoving, at the foot of a very long, very steep flight of stairs with a banana skin stuck to their shiny footwear, or the 6-5 final score when the whistle blows, so you hang on.)