July 15, 2013

Review: "An Eye for an Eye" By Anthony Trollope

This is my fourth Trollope, and while not the best I've read (that distinction goes to The Way We Live Now, so far), it was a good story.  I have found that Trollope is a story-teller, and a very good one at that.  An Eye for an Eye, written in 1879, is actually a tale that is much more characteristic of those written by Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy or even George Eliot.  An Eye for an Eye is a tragedy in every sense of the word, and you can see the tragic ending coming like an on-rushing freight train.

Without giving away too much of the plot of this slim little novel (just 201 pages), the gist of the tale revolves around a handsome young Army officer, Fred Neville, whose regiment has been recently billeted in a remote station along the Irish coast.  During the course of his jaunts about the wild Irish countryside, Fred meets a beautiful young Irish Catholic woman, Kate O'Hara.  Concurrent with his Army duties in Ireland, Fred is selected by his elderly uncle, Lord Scroope, to become the heir apparent and inherent the Scroope wealth, lands, and title.  Suffice it to say that his uncle is not particularly interested in Fred bringing a young Irish Catholic woman back to England as the future Lady Scroope.  With the dilemma of both loving the young woman and recognizing the responsibility to his family, Fred takes actions and makes promises to Kate and his uncle that creates an impossible situation that can only end badly for everyone.

In An Eye for an Eye, Trollope definitely puts his reader 'front-and-center' with many of the social issues of the day, including (1) Catholic vs Protestant, (2) Anglo vs Irish, (3) class differences, and, of course, the (4) gender and sexuality issues that dominate the relationship between Fred and Kate.

Like each of the Trollope novels I've read to date, this was an engaging and well-written story that I quite enjoyed.  I guess I really don't know why I don't read Trollope more often.


An Eye for an Eye
By Anthony Trollope
Oxford University Press
Softcover, 256 pp.

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