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Dr Thorne

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(1858)


The third of six novels in Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire; The Warden (1855), Barchester Towers (1857), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867).



The third novel in Trollope's Barchester Chronicles introduces us to a new place in Barsetshire: Greshamsbury. Local physician and apothecary Doctor Thorne, a distant relative of the Thornes of Ullathorne, has a niece Mary Thorne who was the unfortunate illegitimate result of a tryst between the Doctor's brother and Mary Scatcherd, whose stonemason brother Roger brutally beat the former to death when he found out. But life was kind to Mary, as her uncle's friendship with local squire Mr Gresham made sure she was thrown in with the Gresham children. She is a firm part of the family until only son and heir Frank falls in love with her and his mother the squire's wife Lady Arabella, née snooty de Courcy, casts her out because her electioneering ambitions compelled Mr Gresham to seriously encumber his estate of a vast £14,000 a year and have forced Frank 'to marry money'. But who else should the estate be encumbered with but the stonemason-turned-convict-turned-railway-magnate, now styled Sir Roger Scatcherd? When he decides to tell his physician and confidant Doctor Thorne on his deathbed that he intends to leave everything to 'the eldest child of his sister Mary' if his drink-loving only son Louis should die before the age of 25, the Doctor's heart leaps for joy. The inevitable day arrives, but will the Doctor be able to prove that Mary is indeed Mary Scatcherd's eldest child? Will the two turtle doves be able to build their nest? Apart from electioneering shenanigans and the ridiculous notion that money amends any deficiency in birth, Doctor Thorne lacks the witty intrigue of Barchester Towers, but sets up for the fourth novel in the series Framley Parsonage.--Submitted by kiki1982

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Another Pygmalion?

Dear Friends of Online Literature: I read Dr. Thorne about four years ago. I recall I liked the book very much. The total caringness shown by Dr. Thorne toward his niece Mary had its origin in the weird circumstance connected with her birth. Even though the bond created between Dr. Thorne and Mary is unique, what hopefully may enrich my own sense of compassion is the voyage I experienced into their lives. Dr. Thorne's generous spirit makes me question my own deficiency. Mary reminded me of "My Fair Lady." Without Dr. Thorne she most likely would have ended up rejected by society. The man she eventually marries heroically persevered against the strong objections of his family, particularly of his mother. It boiled down to "marrying for money," a theme reappearing often in 19th Century English novels. Mary ends up like Slum Dog! This book's optimism can be contrasted with Hardy's pessimism in Tess D'Ubervilles. As one of the Barset Chronicle series, Dr. Thorne is recommendable and enjoyable. All of the six books enchanted me very much. My favorite is Barchester Towers. The one that seized my attention the least was Framley Parsonage, but that may depend more on personal taste. After Barchester Towers, The Small House at Allington had me fascinated from beginning to end. Some say The Last Chronicle of Barset is the deepest from a psychological point of view. I'll have to read it again soon.

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