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“And now it remained to them each to enjoy the assurance of the other’s love. And how great that luxury is! How far it surpasses any other pleasure which God has allowed his creatures! And to a woman’s heart how doubly delightful!”

To be honest, I slogged through the first part of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers and almost committed to quitting a few times. I just about fell asleep reading about the dry, archaic doings of Anglican bishops, archdeacons, prebendaries and precentaries (whatever they are) and priests of the Church of England. This was my first time reading Trollope.

 However, the book dived into sudden hilarity in chapter 11 with flying sofas and “legless” women and Trollope’s much celebrated sense of humour became more obvious. The story eventually unfolded a romantic comedy with many hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings, all amid the setting of the stuffy and magisterial Anglican church in mid-19th century England. Trollope tackles absurdity, immorality and superficiality in the church without fear, always with a dose of humour, and even sometimes with outright buffoonery.

 Barchester Towers raises interesting questions for the reader such as: What makes a true Christian (beyond understanding and believing a set of doctrines)? What should the purpose of leadership in the church be? What is the purpose of Christian romance? What is the role of women in a Christian marriage and in the church? Has the church really progressed (or really backslidden) over the centuries? Are the concerns of the church 150 years ago the same as today? I think all of these themes make the book ultimately worth reading in the end.

Once you’ve finished the book, read an in-depth thematic analysis of Barchester Towers here.

Have you read this book before? If not, are you interested in reading it?

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