The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope

The Small House at Allington

But they were all very happy, and were sure that there was safety in their happiness. p. 640

Such a lovely, gentle book. At first, I took issue with it that almost half of September had passed before I turned the last leaf. But then I was reminded, by wise readers with whom I blog, that good books take the time required. It is bad books that ought to be rushed through.

Trollope writes with the wisdom of an omniscient narrator, able to disclose the weakness of his characters with a discerning and gentle eye. He uses a term – hobbledehoyhood – to describe the stage of a boy growing up, and while this book may have been written in 1864, I can clearly see my own beloved son just now leaving this stage at 24 years of age.

Ah, but Johnny Eames is my favorite character in all the book. He thoroughly thrashes Adolphus Crosbie at the Paddington Railway Station, and well he should for all the wrong Crosbie has done to the lovely Lily Dale. Yet he saves Earl De Guest from the attack of a bull in his very own pasture, thereby earning himself an abiding affection from the earl. It takes a lot of work to grow up, apparently, to become a man, and John is not to be rewarded with Lily’s hand in this particular book. It’s enough to make me buy the final book in the series, The Last Chronicle of Barset, to see if they do in fact get together.

I leave this novel, and my post, with favorite passages I highlighted on the way. Perhaps they will give you an idea of the charm within its pages.

~Let her who is forty call herself forty; but if she can be young in spirit at forty, let her show that she is so. (p. 27)

~Why is that girls so constantly do this–so frequently ask men who have loved them to be present at their marriages with other men? There is no triumph in it. It is done in sheer kindness and affection. They intend to offer something which shall soften and not aggravate the sorrow that they have caused. “You can’t marry me yourself,” the lady seems to say. “But the next greatest blessing which I can offer you shall be yours; you shall see me married to somebody else.” I fully appreciate the intention, but in honest truth, I doubt the eligibility of the proffered entertainment. (p. 114)

~It is very hard, that necessity of listening to a man who says nothing. (p. 140)

~The little sacrifices of society are all made by women, as are also the great sacrifices of life. A man who is good for anything is always ready for his duty, and so is a good woman always ready for a sacrifice. (p. 157)

~Last days are wretched days; and so are last moments wretched moments. It is not the fact that the parting is coming which makes these days and moments so wretched, but the feeling that something special is expected from them, which something they always fail to produce. (p. 176)

~How many of us are like the bull, turning away conquered by opposition which should be as nothing to us, and breaking our feet, and worse still, our hearts, against rocks of adamant. (p. 263)

~Love does not follow worth, and is not given to excellence; nor is it destroyed by ill-usage, nor killed by blows and mutilation. (p. 387)

And here, I give a heartfelt thanks to Audrey, JoAnn and Lisa who kindly invited me to join their read-along. It was enriched on Twitter with so many comments and exclamations of surprise, as well as tender remembrances of fond characters met in the earlier novels. I came to the party late, but it was good to be included in the festivity, and to have my first taste of Trollope. What a sweet soul he is.

21 thoughts on “The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope”

  1. As are you, and it was so nice to have you with us! (I first read this book when I was 40 coincidentally, and it’s mortifying to realize that that first quote is about the only thing I remember about it – so it’s all fresh.


    1. I bought the house we now live in at forty, and can hardly believe that it’s now fifteen years later. Another fifteen years and I’ll be…never mind. Still, isn’t it lovely to revisit a favorite book? I’m seriously tempted to carry on with you all into book six.


        1. Yes, it has been so enriching. I saw that the last book was only .99 on Amazon. How can I refuse to buy it? I will certainly try to join you, the ghost story plan isn’t working so well. 😉


    1. This is book five in a series of six, none of which I had read before. But, it didn’t inhibit me from developing an affinity for the characters once I came to known them. I am most tempted to carry on with Book 6, after I read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill which just came in today from the library. It’s supposed to be a quintessential ghost story, which I may have to abandon at page 5. We’ll see…


  2. This book sounds truly wonderful, Bellezza. I’ve wanted to read something by AnthonyTrollope for some time now. I will keep an eye out for this one. Thank you for a superb review.


    1. I had wanted to read Trollope for awhile as well, and this was the perfect opportunity. Now I’m “afraid” I’ll have to go on and read the last book of the series because I want to know what happens to everyone! By page 780+ the characters become friends. I hope you have the chance to read him soon.


  3. Yes, an excellent book, and you must carry on soon with the final volume. The last book brings back all the major characters from the first five (including Lily Dale and Johnny Eames…) and wraps the series up nicely 🙂

    However, it is *very* long 😉


    1. I’m not surprised that you are suggesting I carry on soon with the final volume; one has to know what happens to Lily, for one thing! I didn’t read the first four, but I think Small House has given me sufficient introduction even though I do crave a wrap up. Thanks for the warning that it is very long, which is not unexpected after the length of Small House. 😉


  4. Sounds like you’ve been pleasantly surprised… I’ve been meaning to go back to Trollope at some point. I’ve only read one or two of his books and that was a long time ago, when I was nostalgic for England but before I was mature enough to really appreciate him.


    1. I was pleasantly surprised, indeed. I had no idea that I was getting into more than 700 pages as I began reading on my kindle, so I wasn’t holding the physical heft of the book in my hands. It just kept going and going, but when I gave up the urge for an immediate resolution I was able to sit back and enjoy Trollope’s pace. And, I completely see what you mean about being nostalgic for England and the ‘need’ to read this. It makes me long for a mutton chop and tea, a quiet walk down a garden path, and proper grammar. 😉


      1. What? You mean you don’t ‘do’ proper grammar in your part of the world? Ah, yes, crumpets for tea and the gorse-bush on either side of the twisty country lane… there are still some small parts of England like that.


  5. I am not so sure about the condition of Trollope’s soul. He has an acid side, too, like his mentor Thackeray. You got a taster of that with Crosbie’s marriage. Small House is likely the sweetest of the Trollope novels I have read.


    1. His acid side is so clearly represented in Crosbie, but it isn’t unwarranted. And I was touched by his gentle side in creating brave and true Lily, as well as Mr. Dale who can’t really say to his sister-in-law that he wants her to stay in the Small House in gentle terms. He must convey his want/need gruffly, but she is astute enough to see his heart. I think that for me, overall, Trollope must own a sweet soul as well.

      Now I’m anxious to get to the last book and see how it all concludes. Thank you, too, Tom, for reminding me to take it slowly. Sometimes, I am like one of my third graders.


  6. I am glad that you liked this so much. I loved this book too.

    Johnny Eames may be my second favorite character in the The Chronicles of Barset after Mr. Crawley. I have an entire post dedicated to him and Lily. However, as he returns in the next book, it contains major spoilers.


    1. Oh dear, I’m not even sure I can place Mr. Crawley! Clearly I should have read from book one, rather than start Barsetshire novels with book five! I like John Eames so very much, but I am also quite fond of Lilly. I admire her strength and resolution, her determination to be brave even when she doesn’t feel that way, for that is how we overcome adversity. Not by wishing it over, but by determining to do so. Well, that came across a little too much like a lecture. 🙂

      I think I must go on in the Chronicles of Barset, now. It’s been fun to have your exchange of tweets with the others as we read, and thank you for commenting here. How lovely to get to know an author all of you are already well aware of.


    1. Oh, the read-a-thon! And somehow I’ve completely forgotten about it this year. Well, perhaps I can squeeze some time in tomorrow. At any rate, I hope you enjoy your Trollope choice. It will certainly take most of the read-a-thon hours, but is well worth the time spent.


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