I read this book as part of the Back To The Classics Challenge hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much. It is the first book by Anthony Trollope I have read, and in fact I had never heard of the Palliser series (of which this is the first) until Rachel at Book Snob reviewed this one.
The story concerns a young woman, Alice Vavasor, and her inability to decide between two men, her cousin George Vavasor and her fiance John Grey. She breaks off her engagement to John and accepts George's proposal. George is an odd character, and I've no idea why an intelligent woman like Alice would choose him over John. He's secretive - and that's never a good sign;
And had it been possible he would have wished that no-one should have known his whereabouts. I am not aware that he had any special reason for this peculiarity, or that there was anything about his mode of life that required hiding; but he was a man who had always lived as though secrecy in certain matters might at any time become useful to him.
Alice isn't at all sure that she has done the right thing and much of the book is taken up with her quandary. Her problem is exacerbated by the fact that she is close to George's sister Kate, who is very much in favour of Alice marrying George.
The counterpoint to Alice's story is that of Lady Glencora, a young woman who has been more or less forced into a marriage with Plantagenet Palliser, despite being in love with another man. Her wealth makes her a commodity. Palliser is a rising political star and it is an advantageous match for him
Providing comic relief is Aunt Greenow, a widow in early middle age, left a substantial fortune by her elderly husband, and determined to enjoy it. Like Alice and Glencora, Mrs Greenow is choosing between two men, but on her own terms. Her two suitors, Mr Cheeseacre and Captain Bellfield are falling over each other in their attempts to impress her. But she is enjoying stringing them along and playing the game.
I enjoyed this book and I think it will be one I will return to. Trollope handles serious issues such as marriage and money with a light touch. It's a long book, but I didn't feel I was getting bogged down in it at any point, and I got really involved with the characters.