He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope

I can’t say that this is my favourite Trollope but it’s still well worth reading although as usual it was just too long. Those Victorian weekly instalment magazines have a lot to answer for.

Sir Marmaduke Rowley is governor of the Mandarin Islands, part of the British Empire and he and his wife have the misfortune to have a family of eight daughters, with very little hope of getting them married off to suitable husbands. There is hardly any money to spare with all those girls and no hopes of providing a dowry for any of them, so when the dashing, handsome and wealthy young Englishman Louis Trevelyan visits the islands in his yacht and falls for Emily the eldest Rowley girl, it seems like all their prayers have been answered.

There’s only one moment of disquiet when Lady Rowley, Emily’s mother points out that both the young people concerned are too fond of getting their own way. In Scots we would say that they are ‘thrawn’ which means obstinate and stubborn. It turns out that Lady Rowley was right to worry about it. Mothers often do know best you know!

After the wedding Emily and Louis sail back to England, setting up home in London with Emily’s nearest sister Nora accompanying them. When Colonel Osborne, an old friend of Sir Marmaduke keeps visiting Emily it sets tongues wagging. The colonel is a bachelor, well known for causing marital difficulties by his interest in young wives. He’s one of those men who love to stir things up with a big stick, mainly to feed his own vanity.

Louis Trevelyan doesn’t take at all well to Colonel Osborne’s attention to Emily, especially when he realises that they are being gossiped about at his club. When he tackles Emily about it she takes umbrage and matters go from bad to worse.

I could have clonked their two heads together. As often happens with Trollope novels the whole thing comes about because of lack of communication. Had Louis taken the time to tell Emily of the colonel’s reputation as a well known stirrer up of marital strife then Emily would probably have decided not to see him to spare her own reputation.

I’ve written about the main chracters but there are lots more of them and indeed this book could have been titled ‘Couples’ as it involves so many relationships.

I read this one as part of the Classics Club Challenge. Now it’s time to start Sir Walter Scott’s The Talisman which is the one which I got in the last ‘spin’.

8 thoughts on “He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope

  1. Those pesky communication problems! I just posted today about resurrecting my goal to read more Trollope and this one sounds delightful. I started my Classics Club spin book, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I haven’t really dug in yet – it is short enough to save for the Christmas break, I think.

    • Anbolyn,
      There are so many good Trollopes to choose from! I really enjoyed The Three Clerks too. I’ve started The Talisman and have got past the bit which put me right off it 40 years ago – progress?!

  2. This is the book that really reignited my love for Trollope. It wasn’t so much the main story but the side ones that captivated me, especially Miss Jemima Stanbury (I had to look up her name), and all the goings-on down in Devon.

    • Lisa,
      Yes I think she was often called Aunt Stanbury. There were so many different strands of stories in this book, I would have found it confusing if I hadn’t been able to read it over a fairly short period. The worst thing about reading on a Kindle is not being able to flick back easily to check names.

  3. I haven’t read this yet but have had it on the TBR shelf for some time, hope to get to it next year. I know what you mean about some of them being a wee bit too long — Orley Farm could have used some trimming as well. Still easier to read than Dickens, I think.

    • Karen K,
      I know that some people adore Dickens but I can’t get past the fact that he was a fairly ghastly man and that really puts me off. It’s silly I know, I’m sure lots of authors both alive and dead are people I wouldn’t want to sit around a dining table with. There’s a thought!

  4. I definitely was familiar with the title of this one. (I own several BBC miniseries on DVD, and there is usually a trailer for other BBC miniseries, and the adaptation of He Knew He Was Right always seemed to show up.) But I never knew what it was about. The main characters’ conflict doesn’t sound that interesting, to be honest, but I really do like Trollope’s writing, and so the plot doesn’t necessarily matter.

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