What Luke Rowan, the main man in this novel, cares about is brewing good beer. He inherits a portion of the brewery of Messrs. Bungall and Tappitt, gentlemen who consistently made muddy, disagreeable beer. Naturally Mr. Tappitt objects to an upstart nephew suggesting ways to improve his beer. To Tappitt, beer is business; Luke thinks there is a great deal of poetry in brewing beer.
He is “a young man, by no means of the bad sort, meaning to do well, with high hopes in life, one who had never wronged a woman, or been untrue to a friend, full of energy and hope and pride. But he was conceited, prone to sarcasm, sometimes cynical, and perhaps sometimes affected.” Perhaps the greatest compliment is that Luke “had the gift of making himself at home with people.”
In the character of Dorothea Prime, Rachel’s widowed sister, Trollope takes aim at pharisaic pietism. “Her fault was this: that she had taught herself to believe that cheerfulness was a sin…”
Thus two views of marriage and courtship are at opposition. Trollope poses “that great question,–What line of moral conduct might best befit a devout Christian?”
I loved the storyline but I adored the writing. Phrases like “elated with dismal joy” and “she knew her mother must be appeased and her sister opposed” and “burial service over past unkindness” delighted me.
If you are so inclined, click on the link in the first sentence of this post, then click Look Inside the Book, First Pages. Read the first paragraph and tell me it’s not brilliant.
Rachel Ray. Written in 1863; my favorite book of 2009.