Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Widow Barnaby is a comic masterpiece; a fine figure of a woman, rouged, ribboned and ringletted, she's a fortune hunter ready to take fashionable spa society by storm.
Fanny Trollope was a contemporary of Jane Austen's; not as stylish a writer but possibly even better on the social world of subscription libraries and musical soirees.
She's not as ladylike as dear Jane, so her humour is more robust. When Mrs Barnaby and her suitor Major Allen, having deluded each other about their fortunes, both try to wriggle out of any matrimonial commitment ... I was imagining who I'd cast in a TV dramatisation.
It was a bestseller in 1839. But I did get a bit bored of Mrs Barnaby's beautiful niece, who's too milk-and-water to be any fun ...
The drippy niece, of course, wins the heart of a proud Mr Darcy.
But my sympathies were all with the Widow.

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