Trollope is fun. Reading Trollope is rather like reading Dickens, Austen, and People magazine all at the same time. Trollope creates gentle yet ironic, deftly drawn characterizations. One of the most impressive achievements of The American Senator is that I ended up routing for the cold, manipulative femme fatale. Trollope does an excellent job depicting the reality of life for a single English woman in the gentry class circa 1900. The machinations of the femme fatale become understandable, even justifiable, the further you get into that world.
I don't think Trollope would have expected me to side so much with this character (Arabella). I think I was supposed to be bowled over by the sweet, kind, heartwarming mirror to Arabella. But Trollope is too good at what he does NOT to give Arabella a complex personality.
The book is also hilarious. Towards the end, the narrator tells us:
The duke had objected to the term "thoroughly bad girl," which had been applied by his wife to his niece. He had said that "thoroughly bad girl" was strong language, and when the duchess defended the phrase he had expressed his opinion that Arabella was only a bad girl and not a thoroughly bad girl. The duchess had said that it was the same thing. "Then," said the duke, "why use a redundant expletive against your own relative?" The duchess, when she was accused of strong language, had not minded it much; but her feelings were hurt when a redundant expletive was attributed to her.This is Monty-Python level humor! Great stuff.
Despite liking Trollope so much, I probably won't be reading him again soon. The American Senator took me about 2 months. Seriously. It was like reading War & Peace except the names were easier to follow, and it was less depressing. But talk about long.
But I do recommend him!