Book Review: Anthony Trollope ~ Phineas Redux (1874)

If Dominic Cummings had read and understood Trollope’s novel he’d still be helping Johnson. He’d have been ultra ingratiating to Johnson’s bride-to-be for a start. A Mr Bonteen was more-or-less promised he’d be the new Chancellor but the wife of one of the principals hated him.

Plantagenet, of all the men that are coming up, your Mr Bonteen is the worst. I often think that you are going down hill, both in character and intellect, but if you go as low as that I shall prefer to cross the water, and live in America.” p328 (Plantagenet was the duke of Omnium and a new ministry couldn’t be formed without him. Mr Bonteen was ditched.)

This is a political novel and much more. Hunting as an obsession is well written – without gore. Great political issues like the Church-State debate and, believe it or not, decimalisation are aired. The marriage ‘market’ where rich women were hunted by men in need of an income is satirised.

There’s routine Victorian anti-Semitism with Mr Bonteen’s murder by either a fellow MP (and society favourite) or a “filthy Jew”. Trollope’s defence lawyer is a Victorian Rumpole of the Bailey character and equally devastating. (Was he the inspiration of John Mortimer’s character?) A society murder trial is the final flourish before a ‘happy ending’.

A wonderful read.

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