Anthony Trollope is my favorite Victorian writer. People are afraid of him for some reason and when you recommend his novels, they groan, and complain about dull, overblown, dreary "classics." I can only assume that the groaners have never read him, because he's not dull or dreary at all. Yet this was my reaction when Trollope's Barchester Towers was assigned in one of my English classes, so I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the assignment after all, and I seem to recall a class discussion in which other students said they'd been pleasantly surprised as well.
I did reread Barchester Towers, about eight years ago and loved it even more. It's the second book in the Barsetshire Chronicles series. There's no need to read the first book, (The Warden) and it's probably best to save The Warden for when you are a confirmed Trollope fan. Which won't take long.
It's set in a fictional cathedral town in England, and all the main characters are connected with the church. It has all the essentials for a good comfort read: a lovable old man, a young woman, the young man she eventually marries, a Bishop with political connections, and his ridiculous wife. You could almost be reading Emma, but not really because it's nothing like Emma and there's a lot of un-Austen church politics.
Trollope himself was a contemporary of Dickens and Thackeray. He was an extraordinarily prolific writer, publishing forty-seven novels as well as several short stories, two plays, and works of non fiction, all while working full time for the British post office. I've only read six of his novels and I loved them all. They're absorbing, comfortable, gently funny, and mildly sexy. My blog name, Patience Crabstick, is the name of a minor character in Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds. So don't fear the Victorian and check out some Trollope.