In the second volume from Trollope's series of six `Palliser' novels, we probe deep into the life of British politics. The story is told from the standpoint of a young Irish MP whose private and public affairs become entangled. Trollope's genius for making such matters exciting is displayed in full as he explores Phineas's political ambitions, his romantic attachments and the steep learning curve he has to climb in both.
As usual in these novels, there is a large cast of delightful supporting characters, enlivened further by the author's rich sense of their comic possibilities. This talent for detail is combined with a magisterial overview which lifts the book above parochial politics, making it of interest to any reader interested in the study of personality and action.
Anthony Trollope was born on 24 April 1815 and attended both Harrow and Winchester schools. His family were poor and eventually were forced to move to Belgium, where his father died. His mother, Frances Trollope, supported the family through writing. Trollope began a life-long career in the civil service with a position as a clerk in the General Post Office in London - he is also credited with later introducing the pillar box. He published his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran in 1847, but his fourth novel, The Warden (1855) began the series of 'Barsetshire' novels for which he was to become best known. This series of five novels featuring interconnecting characters spanned twenty years of Trollope's career as a novelist, as did the 'Palliser' series. He wrong over 47 novels in total, as well as short stories, biographies, travel books and his own autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1883. Trollope resigned from the Post Office in 1867 and stood for Parliament as a Liberal, though he was not elected. He died on 6 December 1882.