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The Bertrams

Anthony Trollope

Book Overview: 

This is a massive effort, taking place in England and the Middle East, with a cast of thousands... Well, not thousands, fortunately, but certainly a great many. There are three Bertrams present: Sir Lionel, his son George (our hero), and the wealthy uncle. The primary story involves the joining of two couples (following some rocky periods), and the disposal of the uncle's fortune. The more amusing bits focus on peripheral characters in the social settings of a fictional town and in travel on board ship or touring Egypt. Trollope digresses from time to time to lecture us on religion, politics, and eccentricities of the British tourist.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .cles becoming smaller as they rise towards the top. Why Absalom should have had such a tomb, who can say? That his bones were buried there, the Jews at least believe; for Jewish fathers, as they walk by with their children, bid their boys each cast a stone there to mark their displeasure at the child who rebelled against his parent. It is now nearly full of such stones.

While Miss Waddington was arranging her toilet within the tomb of St. James, her admirers below were not making themselves agreeable to each other. "It was the awkwardest thing I ever saw," said Mr. Cruse to Mr. M'Gabbery, in a low tone, but not so low but what Bertram was intended to hear it.

"Very," said Mr. M'Gabbery. "Some men are awkward by nature;—seem, indeed, as though they were never intended for ladies' society."

"And then to do nothing but laugh at the mischief he had caused. That may be the way at Oxford; but we used to flatter ourselves at Cambridge that we ha. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Although Trollope had already published the first three titles in his well-received Chronicles of Barsetshire series, The Bertrams appeared relatively early in the author's career. Much of it allows the author to display his future prowess. Unfortunately, much of it is also a slog - at least to m...more

The Bertrams is Anthony Trollope's sixth novel (of 47), and one of his better efforts. Although the book came in for criticism for all its travel scenes (it goes to the Middle East twice during the course of the action), it is an excellent character study of a man, George Bertram, who had reason...more

Trollope is underrated. At his best, he is a cross between Dickens and Balzac. I've pretty much plowed through everything he's written. His plots, like those of Dickens, are fairly predictable and involve lovers overcoming obstacles to finally achieve a life of wedded bliss, but the social commen...more

Trollope wrote “The Bertrams” fairly early in his writing career and to me it felt different from his usual fare. Of course there was his theme of boy meets girl, he/they fall in love, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy eventually wins girl. The emotion seemed more raw though. In “Bertrams” Troll...more

This is a very atypical Trollope novel. The cynicism and unremitting bleakness can really put off fans of Trollope's comic novels.

That said, it is a powerful novel. It has a little too much exposition and moralising by the narrator at times, but the characterisations of Caroline Waddington and Ge...more

This book is surprisingly cynical for one of Trollope's earlier works. The discussion on religion is more meaty than anything I've read so far. George Bertram's indecision and lack of direction ring very true.

Unusually for Trollope, this is set partly in and around Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this just means that Trollope's insularity and racism, which are why I don't like his travel writing, are to the fore, and so I didn't enormously care for the novel as a whole.

First sentence: This is undoubtedly the age of humanity — as far, at least, as England is concerned.

Premise/plot: The Bertrams chronicles the adventures and misadventures of three men: George Bertram, Arthur Wilkinson, and Sir Henry Harcourt. The novel, as a whole, has a feel of a proverb or two...more

Fairly straightforward Romance format by Trollope with lots of lessons in this one: be happy with what you've achieved; don't presume you know what others are thinking; marry for love and respect etc. etc.

An unusual Trollope novel - a blend of satire, cynicism, the usual loved-and-lost plot, with a journey to Jerusalem and an old miser thrown. If you can stomach the casual racism, the travel writing is a fascinating glimpse of the period (including romantic believers in the Holy Land, sceptical ar...more

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