1001 Book Review: Castle Richmond by Anthony Trollope
Castle Richmond by Anthony Trollope
Published in: 1860
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Synopsis from Goodreads: “Castle Richmond” is a drama of blackmail, disinheritance and romance set in Ireland. As the Fitzgerald family struggle to keep possession of their home, the castle of the book’s title, Herbert Fitzgerald and his handsome cousin Owen pursue and fall in love with the same woman, Lady Clara Desmond, whose widowed mother herself has secret designs on Owen. Beyond these intrigues up at the great houses of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy lies an Ireland devastated by the 1845-9 famine, scandal which Trollope does not confront but which none less haunts his novel.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: This was a 3 star read for me while the story itself was interesting the way the narrative was told made it feel dull and stilted I am not sure if this was due to me as a reader or the book.
The backdrop of the Irish famine was interesting however the effects of this catastrophe are not felt personally by our central characters. Despite the Desmond’s claiming to be poor they still have their own property complete with enough food so they are spared the suffering of the truly poor. The famine is used to highlight the good qualities of Herbert Fitzgerald he is building a soup kitchen, his sisters are actively involved in preparing and serving the Yellow Meal which is the only food available to the starving masses, he supports sending the poor to work houses where they can earn food for themselves and their families believing that just handing out food or money want stop the crisis. He also sees first hand how starvation is killing the children of the poor and he is powerless to stop it.
The romance side of the story pitches the passionate love of youth against the love of equals with shared values and visions and strong family support but which will win?
For me the characters felt stereotypical we have Owen the poor playboy whose main asset is his dashing good looks pitched against his cousin Herbert who is a good, kind and caring gentleman with money. On the female side we have Clara the pure, sweet, innocent virgin who has to chose between the two suitors and her mercenary mother the Countess who married for a title and is now determined to see her daughter married for money. The blackmailers are would you believe it poor Irish men who enjoy their drink too much and spare no thought for the harm they are doing with their get rich quick scheme.
Overall I did enjoy the book but it dragged and I had to force myself to pick it up.
Who would enjoy this? I would recommend this to those who like gentle romances with a focus on social standing.
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