What I’m reading now: Phineas Finn & P.F. Redux

Note: If you’re not a Trollope reader, you may as well ignore this. But there’s no time like the present to grab “Barchester Towers” and get started.
I think I’m one of the few people in history to try this doubleheader: Trollope’s Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux back-to-back without a pause in between.
For one thing, since these books are #2 and #4 in a series, most Trollope readers probably read #3 in between. But I had already read that one.
Combined, the two Phineas books are nearly as long as War & Peace. Trollope was not a master of brevity.
But he is the master of this type of book, which zooms in and out between tiny personal problems and world-shaking (or so they seem to the players) political action.
In this way the Phineas books remind one of Framley Parsonage, an overlooked Trollope masterwork which is set in the same “world” as Phineas.
However, we have some of that “delicious” plotting which made Barchester Towers so great. It’s the sort of thing that would be conveyed in a movie by the slight raising of Maggie Smith’s eyebrow, if you know what I mean. That wonderful moment when all the pieces are almost in place and the queen makes up her mind to check mate. She can see it coming and we can see it coming and the feeling is delicious.
When an author can give you that feeling after the hundreds and hundreds of pages that have been in this saga… you know you are fated/doomed to read all the way to the end. 

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