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Phineas Finn: The Irish Member (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – December 9, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


''This gracefully written work is perfectly read by Whitfield, who successfully evokes the Victorian era.'' -- Booklist

''The polished excitement that animates Whitfield's (aka Simon Vance) reading comes across richly and compels the listener's attention.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 776 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192835335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835338
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.6 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,311,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
PHINEAS FINN is a book of many virtues and one unfortunate flaw. The flaw lies in the ending, of which I can say nothing here without giving away a bit of the plot. Let me just say that the ending is a bit of a "tack on." Trollope himself confessed in his AUTOBIOGRAPHY that he botched the ending, and explains that when he decided to write a second novel starring Phineas Finn, he awkwardly had to correct the mistakes he made in the ending of the previous book.
The virtues of the book lie in part in its presentation of the social complexities of the British upper class in 1860s. While a political history of the period could explain the various ins and outs of the major pieces of legislation dealt with at the time, Trollope shows us how many individuals at the time actually felt about these issues from the inside. In this way, Trollope performs a service that no historian ever could. Virtually all the major political figures of the time, from Gladstone to Disraeli appear under thinly veiled aliases.
But the true heart of the book is Trollope's great characters. I absolutely love Jane Austen. She is one of my two or three favorite writers. But sometimes I find the enormous propriety of her characters to be a tad tiring. In these way her characters, as magnificent as they otherwise might be, sometimes seem a little less than fully human. Trollope's characters, on the other hand, often fail to act with complete propriety. They do improper things, and feel improper emotions. Our hero falls in love with one woman, then another, feels attraction to another, and falls in love with yet another, and in general fails in his role as a great romantic hero. A woman marries someone she doesn't love, yet retains feelings for another, and suffers from the threat of a bad marriage.
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Format: Paperback
Recently, a personal tragedy resulted in a rare hiatus in my reading. In attempting to return to normal, I found the only author that suited (and soothed) me was Anthony Trollope. As an English major at Dartmouth, I never encountered his works, and none were on the required reading list; yet now, there are few writers who can "embed" me in their world so easily as Trollope.

This is the second of the Palliser series of six novels, the first of which was CAN YOU FORGIVE HER? Although it is not a prerequisite to understanding PHINEAS FINN, I recommend that readers start at the beginning, so that they have some idea of British parliamentary politics in the mid 19th century and the characters of Plantagenet Palliser, his wife Lady Glencora and their circle.

To begin with, there was at that time no monetary recompense for being a member of the House of Commons. The assumption was that: (1) the member was independently wealthy or (2) the member had a day job which paid his bills. This becomes an overriding issue in the novel.

Enter Phineas Finn, an engaging Irishman, who gives up the practice of law to run for an Irish seat in the House -- much to the consternation of his friends and relatives who worry how he is to make ends meet. He joins in with a group of Liberal politicians centered around Lord Beresford and his beautiful daughter, Lady Laura Standish. No sooner does Phineas get up the courage to propose to her than he finds he has been beaten to the punch by a wealthy Scottish member, who happens to be a dour and rigid Presbyterian.

Next he targets Violet Effingham, who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Lord Chiltern, the brother of Lady Laura.
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1 Comment 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
The chances are that "Phineas Finn" will not be the first or the second or even the third Trollope novel that you read. Several Barsetshire novels and "The Way We Live Now" are likely to get pride of place. This is probably fair enough. But that fact says more about the merits of the other books than of any defect in "Phineas Finn." It isn't perfect, but it is a very satisfying novel, indeed - perhaps the best "political" novel since Disraeli's "Sybil," It is "political," that is, not in the sense that it tackles big issues, as "Sybil" does - "Phineas Finn" gives a once-over to voting rights, tenant rights and the Irish but it's all somewhat perfunctory. No: it is "political" in the sense that it is about the lives and fortunes of a public man, and of those who offer help or hindrance on the way.
The core elements of the plot are fairly familiar: callow youth sets out to conquer the world and finds out that it's trickier than it looks. Impetuous young woman enters into marriage full of high hopes only to find out that she is stuck with a bad deal. But then, you don't read Shakespeare for plot. I wouldn't say that Trollope is Shakespeare. Still, it is impressive how much by way of character and situation both writes can milk out of a structure that is almost haphazard.
Other commentators have also noted that the ending to "Phineas Finn" is weak, but I don't see that as a crippling vice: I'm hard put to think of a really good novel whose ending is not weak.
One of the many notable facts about the cast of characters is its great range: we have the home folk in Ireland. We have a marvelous portrait of Finn's landlord, the law-copyist, and his employer, the successful barrister - in each case, along with their wives.
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