'The Last Chronicle of Barset' is a novel about Privilege, and how when you have Privilege you suffer more than common people, whose lives being always terrible, are used to it and don't feel pain. Trollope goes to great lengths to prove to the reader that starving in a hovel doesn't compare to the exquisite pain of not having a new pair of evening gloves. Trollope may have an upswing in popularity in the next four years.
Josiah Crawley had first made an appearance in Framley Parsonage as a poverty-stricken curate of a poor district, far away from the usual comforts enjoyed by the clergy in these novels. Crawley's situation has improved in some ways, since a few of his children have died, but shame is about to come down on his head. He would almost rather the family be put out onto the streets than take assistance from concerned friends.
Crawley's final shame comes about at the start of the novel when a tradesmen, a butcher, pressures Rev. Crawley to pay a bill and so he pays with a banknote that...it appears he's stolen! He cannot account for how it came into his possession. It is the talk of the county and, unfortunately, is spoiling his daughter's chances of marriage with a son of the Archdeacon.
Jane Crawley is too noble by half to let herself marry the man she loves and drag the Grantly's into shame, but like so many other Trollope heroines, she is suspected of the lowest motives and never given information she has every right to possess until the last minute. Her story is a decent one, but the heart of the novel is in the slow fading of Septimus Harding, the former Warden, and Lily Dale, whose continued refusal to ever marry at the end 'The Small House' is tested. She is thrown up against all the former heroines of Barchester, each one, yes, even Miss Dunstable, washed of personality by marriage.
This novel was not as rewarding as others by Trollope, but it at least tied up any loose ends and it did justice to more characters than not. The majority of the authors attention was already turning to the politics of London rather than the clerical gentry that were the heart of the Barchester stories.
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