And so ends the Chronicles of Barsetshire . . . I'm sad to say. Between this series and the Pallisers, I've read all twelves loosely-related books. I can't quite believe that I'm done and that there are no more. I'm not sure I can sum up any better than Trollope himself, at the end:
But to me Barset has been a real county, and its city a real city, and the spires and towers have been before my eyes, and the voices of the people are known to my ears, and the pavement of the city ways are familiar to my footsteps. To them all I now say farewell.
Even for Trollope this book is long and, for long stretches, nothing of import seems to happen. Nevertheless, at this point in the series, if you've come this far, you don't care. You appreciate the series for what it is and enjoy. No author I've ever read makes nothing seem so enjoyable. The speed of events work wonders in transporting the reader to the time and place of the books - everything is slow and relaxing the British countryside in the mid-1800s, and that's as it should be. My little window of escape into times-gone-by is now closed. I'll have to seek out another one. I can't resist passing on this piece of advice before I take my leave:
‘And now, Conway,’ she said, ‘I will give you some advice. And when in after-days you shall remember this interview, and reflect how that advice was given you–with what solemnity.’–here she clasped both her hands together–‘I think that you will follow it. Clara Van Siever will now become your wife.’ ‘I do not know that at all,’ said Dalrymple. ‘Clara Van Siever will now become your wife,’ repeated Mrs Broughton in a louder voice, impatient of opposition. ‘Love her. Cleave to her. Make her flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. But rule her! Yes, rule her! Let her be your second self, but not your first self. Rule her! Love her. Cleave to her. Do not leave her alone, to feed on her own thoughts as I have done–as I have been forced to do. Now go.