Cousin Henry

Cousin Henry

by Anthony Trollope

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Overview

Cousin Henry (published By Oxford World's Classics) takes us to Camarthen in Wales, where genial old Indefer Jones is spending his final years in the company of his niece, Isabel Brodrick, on his Llanfeare estate. Having earlier decided to make Isabel his heir, he has a change of heart, feeling it his duty to pass the estate on to the next male in the family line, his nephew Henry. With Isabel content to follow the old man's wishes, despite her dislike of her cousin, Uncle Indefer invites the young clerk down from London, only for Henry to reinforce every negative image the locals had of him from previous encounters.By the time the old man passes away, rumours have gone around that a new will has been made, making Isabel the heir once more, yet when the drawer containing Indefer's papers is opened, this additional will is nowhere to be found. Despite a lot of mumbling and grumbling, the locals have no choice but to bid farewell to their beloved Isabel and acknowledge Henry as the new owner of Llanfeare. However, this is not the end of the matter - what if the will really was made, and it's still somewhere in the house?Legal affairs are not uncommon in Trollope's work (c.f. The Eustace Diamonds, Orley Farm, The Three Clerks), and that's the direction Cousin Henry takes in the second half of the story, with a local newspaper deliberately defaming the young heir in the hope of forcing him into a courtroom. However, this is far less a courtroom drama than a pyschological case study, with the real story only starting once the initial uproar over the will has subsided and Henry is left to reflect upon his property - and his actions.From the start, Trollope makes it clear that the young clerk, while perfectly entitled to be left the estate, is not really worthy of the prize, something his uncle realises when Henry has spent a while in Camarthenshire:'Yes; I had intended that you should be my heir, and have called you hither for that purpose. Now I find you to be so poor a creature that I have changed my mind.' That in truth was what his uncle had said to him and had done for him.p.84 (Oxford University Press, 2008)Uncle Indefer isn't the only one to openly show disdain for the outsider, and in many ways this unfair treatment is to blame for what follows, Henry's inability to confess what he knows about his uncle's final will.It is this middle section of the book which is the true heart of the novel, a psychological study of a weak, vacillating man caught between the desire to do the right thing and the fear of behaving badly, even if there's the possibility of getting away with it. Caught between a rock and a hard place, most people would eventually jump one way or the other and accept the consequences, but Henry finds himself unable to take the smallest step towards resolving his dilemma, in the process alienating even those who wish to think the best of him. His every action, such as his reluctance to leave the small reading room where he spends the majority of his day, betrays him, as does his own body, cold sweat appearing on his pallid forehead as he sits avoiding eye contact with his few visitors.The contrast with his cousin is striking. Isabel is a strong woman, whose will, if anything, is too strong. She suspects that she is the rightful heir of Llanfeare but is unwilling to undertake any actions against Henry, as much as she despises him. This strength of character even extends to her refusal to marry the man she loves, not wanting to drag him down once it becomes clear that she is to receive nothing from the will (of course, as anyone who has read a Trollope novel before will instantly realise, the chances of her ending the story unmarried are very remote...).There's a lot to like about Cousin Henry for Trollope fans, with the usual comforting narratorial style and the odd witty aside from the narrator:

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781389291999
Publisher: Blurb
Publication date: 10/03/2019
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 - 6 December 1882) was an English novelist of the Victorian era. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote novels on political, social, and gender issues, and other topical matters. Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he had regained the esteem of critics by the mid-20th century.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Note on the Text xxv
Select Bibliography xxix
A Chronology of Anthony Trollope xxxii
Cousin Henry
1(280)
Explanatory Notes 281

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Cousin Henry 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
seoulful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first reading of Trollope and I found his work very intriguing. The author was certainly aware of the anguish of guilt as he led us painfully through the experience of Cousin Henry in being the only one who knows the location of the last will of the old Squire--a will that would disinherit him of a large estate. As he agonizes over whether or not to reveal this information, we go through the twisting and turning of his reasoning, his rationalizations, his self-righteousness, his self pity, his lack of sleep and lack of appetite and finally his terror before man and God. We witness his great relief of leaving what he once held so dear and see the appetite restored and a happiness in returning to a once despised job with an unburdened conscience. There is also a very interesting look into the convoluted reasoning of the Squire's niece, the heiress in the last will. She and the man she loves are people of unusual honor who almost lose the hope of marriage by stubbornly sticking to questionable principles. An interior examination of cowardice and deceit that can still resonate in some small corner of each of our minds.