This is the fourth in the series of Palliser novels, often referred to as the ‘political novels’, because they mainly concern upper class Liberal politicians, exemplified by Plantagenet Palliser himself, who in this book inherits the Dukedom of Omnium. The very names illustrate the playful, slightly whimsical way in which the writer approaches his story.

Trollope is easy to read. His style is very smooth and undemanding, so the story unfolds as easily as it does for the viewer of a TV series. There is a lot of discussion of fox hunting in the book, which is really an extended metaphor for the business of politics. There is a great scene where love and marriage are discussed entirely through the metaphor of fox hunting.

The protagonist of the book is Phineas Finn, an Irishman seeking, securing and then nearly losing his seat in the British Parliament. It is an engrossing read, if a little slow at times. And one does tire, a bit, of only reading about extremely wealthy people. But I look forward to the next in the series.

I read a Penguin edition, which didn’t have notes, and I missed them. The blurb on the back also gave away the entire plot, which rather ruined any element of surprise. I don’t know why they did that – perhaps they thought the only readers would be academics or people who knew the story already? More likely, it was just a cock up.

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