Trollope's last complete novel, this is the story of 50-year-old William Whittlestaff who becomes guardian to Mary Lawrie, the orphaned daughter of an old friend, and falls in love with her. The sudden return of Mary's fiance on the day of William's proposal precipitates a crisis.
The story of William Whittlestaff and his ward Mary Lawrie was Trollope's last complete novel, finished seven months before his death and written in almost constant pain and ill-health. His depiction of the agonized Whittlestaff is one of his very best portrayals, and among the minor characters the aged and garrulous housekeeper Mrs Baggett and the fatuous Reverend Montagu Blake show his powers undiminished. The more sombre and thoughtful note that sounds in the background is the only clue to the author's growing awareness of his own mortality.
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