Dr. Wortle's School
Our book club will be discussing Dr. Wortle's School by Anthony Trollope next week. I'm a little nervous, because I suggested this book, and I know at least one member was not enthusiastic about it. (I asked her what she thought of the book and she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Eh, well, if you like Jane Austen, then, I guess...." and that was it!)
While I do like Jane Austen, I don't consider Trollope's works to be very similar to hers. And while I have yet to read a Trollope novel I didn't like, some have been more enjoyable than others. In this case, I found Dr. Wortle's School interesting and a nice read, but it wasn't as witty as some of his other novels.
Dr. Wortle, a clergyman, has a school - a very highly regarded school for boys whose parents want them to go on to Eton and perhaps Oxford. His school is selective and expensive, and Dr. Wortle, his wife, and his daughter live quite comfortably and are respected.
Dr. Wortle hires as a teacher Mr. Peacocke, and Mr. Peacocke's wife helps with the care of the pupils' linens, etc. Mr. Peacocke is an excellent teacher - perhaps one of the best in England - but he and his wife refuse (politely) to socialize with anyone, hinting that they are not morally fit to do so.
Tongues begin wagging, especially the tongue of a vicious woman who would like to see Dr. Wortle's school collapse and Dr. Wortle humiliated, and Mr. Peacocke takes it upon himself to explain to his employer why he and his wife must remain isolated from society. The problem is admittedly complex - Mr. Peacocke married Mrs. Peacocke after she was widowed. However, some time after they were married her "deceased" husband appeared, then left again without a trace. The reaction of the county to this knowledge, and the way the problem is resolved, and what Dr. Wortle does takes the rest of the book to unfold.
Thankfully, Trollope tied up all the loose ends and made a good ending.
I just wonder what my friends in the book club think...?