Sunday 7 July 2019

Brookner's Trollope

Reading Barchester Pilgrimage reminded me that we all construct our own versions of our favourite authors. Brookner was a Trollopian: she read him, she said, for decent feelings, and in her review of Victoria Glendinning's Trollope biography Brookner insisted any prospective reader must gain as an initial qualification a familiarity with every one of Trollope's forty-seven novels: a notion that seemed to me at the time, though not now, distant and exotic.

She refers directly to Trollope in her 1996 novel Altered States, speaking in the voice of the narrator Alan Sherwood:
Like Lady Stavely* in Orley Farm, my mother's favourite novel, 'She liked to see nice-dressed and nice-mannered people about her, preferring those whose fathers and mothers were nice before them.'
Was Orley Farm Brookner's own favourite Trollope? It seems an odd choice: an early novel, with more than a few misfires. Or perhaps she just happened to be reading or rather rereading it while writing Altered States. My own favourite would probably be something late and light like The Duke's Children or Ayala's Angel. But I guess, as I say, we all have our own Trollope.

*It's actually 'Staveley'. Not for the first time, Brookner's spelling is amiss. See also here.

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