August 20, 2011
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Doctor Thorne

by Anthony Trollope

Finding myself enthralled by a BBC Audio production of the Barchester, I put aside the audio and read this long and spirited courtship in which an orphan, having been raised by her uncle the country doctor, discovers her place in the world.

Trollope wrote with great facility and precision but was not always concise, and even when he pokes fun at novelistic convention we remain several steps ahead of him as the plot unfolds. Jo Walton’s critique – that the people in Trollope’s novels simply don’t act as people do – in seldom more evident than here, for Austen’s heroines are more subject to love’s lightning strike. But no one writes better about Victorian home economy, and Trollope’s best scenes are well worth the wait.

A growing problem for Amazon’s Kindle store is the glut of garbage editions of out-of-copyright classics. Some are fine, some are sloppy, some are so badly scanned that they aren’t even recognizably English. It’s shameful. I expect the answer is a $100/title listing fee, perhaps refunded after you’ve earned $100 in revenue. But something needs to be done to stem the garbage.