Okay, I have GOT to blog about this book I am reading. It’s an 800-page Anthony Trollope novel called Can You Forgive Her? and so far, the answer is, “No. I can’t.” Because, see, what this book lacks in excitement and good storytelling, it makes up for in PATENTLY FLAKY BEHAVIOR.
This is only the first of a six-volume series involving the Victorian aristocracy, and since I’ve never read any Trollope before, I thought it would be good to read. I am only 400 pages in, but there are going to be some spoilers.
So, there’s this chick named Alice who was once engaged to her first cousin, George. George is a bit of a rake, but you know I love me some bad boys. Apparently so does Alice. George is an aspiring politician who dumped Alice for this crazy-wealthy heiress who ended up dying a month before they got married, leaving him penniless AND without a girlfriend.
So Alice is now engaged to this guy named John. And what you need to know about John is that he is the best man to have ever lived. He is handsome, loyal, upstanding, well-off, etc. Basically, apart from being ever-so-slightly boring, there is nothing wrong with this guy. Alice keeps saying how much she loves him, and he won her heart, oh, he’s such a good man, blah blah.
There’s only one problem—despite all of this, she doesn’t want to marry him. For no apparent reason. She just . . . doesn’t. It's pretty clear that she doesn't love him the way she loved George. George is her one true love, John is not. And she agonizes about it for HALF THE BOOK, when it's clear she should friendzone her fiance and go back to her cousin, who is actually interesting. I am saying this in several different ways because that is how much Trollope has established that this is what should happen. Also whenever she talks to people about not really wanting to marry John, they are like, “OMG, seriously, if you let this holy grail of manhood get away, I will kill you.” And Alice is all, “No way, I totally made a promise, I’m definitely going to marry him, how could I go back on my word?”
So then she breaks up with him. Only he refuses to believe it and says he'll never give up hope until she tells him she's gotten engaged to someone else. And everyone is like, “OMG, seriously, what is wrong with you? Don’t you DARE go back to your no-good cousin, he is such a loser, we all hate him, blah blah.” And Alice is all, “I would never do that, he jilted me once, and even though I am inexplicably drawn to him, for, like, 400 pages, I would never even consider it.”
So then she and George get engaged (but they keep it quiet from John out of respect). And I am all like, “Thank god, we can move on with this story.” Except that they get engaged through letter-writing, not in person. So the first time George comes to see her after they get back together, he walks in the room and she becomes physically repulsed by him and tells him that she doesn’t want to marry him for at least a year. And I am like, “You have GOT to be messing with me. We just spent 400 pages establishing that, for whatever reason, George is the one for her—and now he inexplicably disgusts her? Is she allergic to marriage? MAYBE SHE SHOULD STOP GETTING ENGAGED, THEN.” What’s more, she keeps thinking about how much she loved John and how she definitely has zero passionate love left for her cousin. And I think, "BUT YOU JUST SPENT 400 PAGES PASSIONING OVER HIM. WHAAAA?"
Then George like, “Hey, baby, can I have your money? Cuz I’m up for re-election soon, and I know we’re not even married yet, but Whiggish propaganda doesn’t pay for itself, now does it?” And she goes, “Yeah, sure, take my entire fortune. No really, here it is.”
So she’s like, “Even though he repulses me and I am having serious issues with ever getting married, I’m going to go through with it. I guess I better finally tell John.” And her father is like, “I am completely furious with you. How could I have sired such a stupid child? John is way too good for you. Moreover, he said that he would never release you from your engagement unless you got engaged to someone else. Since you are, you know, SLIGHTLY FICKLE, why don’t you just sit on this news for a while? I mean, hell, your cousin disgusts you one day into your secret engagement. Maybe see if you ACTUALLY WANT TO MARRY GEORGE before you crush John’s hopes. Because you might want to marry him again in 50 pages. I really don’t know at this point.”
And she’s all, “Yeaaaah, maaaaaybe I should waaaaait.”
So she writes to John immediately, and he is all, “WTF. SRSLY WTF.” And so he storms off to London to confront her, and as soon as he walks through the door, she's like, "Oh, I think you really are the one I really love and want to be with, but I have made my promise to George and I totally can't go back on it now because it was 10 pages ago. And also, he took all my money, so I don't want to make this a total loss." And John is like, "I love you so so so much because I am a perfect studly dreamboat god, and if you want to dump George, I would actually take you back because I am good and he is bad." And she's like, "Noooo . . . I couldn't possibly do that after giving my word. Could I? Nooooo, that would be baaaaad. I'm not going to do that."
And that is as far as I have gotten.
I cannot handle another 400 pages of this crap. The dithering and the over-thinking is KILLING ME. I swear to god, if she is in the other five books . . . I’m not reading them.