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Anthony Trollope once said, "A novel should give a picture of common life enlivened by humor and sweetened by pathos." Trollope admirably fulfills his own criteria in this charming third novel in the Chronicles of Barsetshire.
When Doctor Thomas Thorne adopts his niece, Mary, he chooses to keep secret her illegitimate birth as he introduces her to the best local social circles. There she meets and falls in love with Frank Gresham, heir to a vastly mortgaged estate. With such a deeply depleted fortune, Frank is obliged to find a wealthy wife. And so, at the behest of his mother, Mary is banished and Frank proposes to woman deemed financially appropriate, despite his unfailing love for Mary.
Only Doctor Thorne knows that Mary is to inherit a large legacy that will make her acceptable to the otherwise disapproving middle-class society to which Frank belongs. The question is, will he reveal the secret before it's too late?
Where fiery passion fails, understated English virtues of patience, persistence, and good humor prevail in this most appealing of Trollope's novels.