We more or less leave behind The Warden, Mr Harding, Arch Deacon Grantly, The Bishop and the stern Mrs Proudie.
This story revolves around Mary Thorne who is the niece of the good Doctor Thomas Thorne, indeed relative of the Wilfred Thorne from the previous novel Barchester Towers and the local Squires son, one Frank Gresham.
We have several families to contend with, we have Franks family. Mr Francis Newbold Gresham the senior that who is the current the squire of Greshambury. with his wife Lady Arabella his wife (formerly De Courcy), she is aware of the estate poor economies, in fact the Gresham estate is heavily in debt. Frank himself and two sisters, Augusta the youngest and Beatrice Mary Thorne’s best friend.
We also have the De Courcy’s. Earl De Courcy Lady Arabella’s brother, Lady De Courcy and their eldest daughter.
Then we have the Thornes starting with the good Doctor himself, Mary’s uncle Dr Thomas Thorne, He is a great friend of both Squire Gresham senior and Sir Roger Scatcherd, Mary Thorne his niece and that of Sir Roger.
And The Scratcheds and the aforementioned Sir Roger Scatcherd (played here by the excellent Leo Mckern) a Baronet and a self-made man building railways in the country. Then there his wife Lady Scatcherd and the son Sir Louis Philippe Scatcherd who sadly shares his penchant for alcohol like his father.
We have the Oriels, Caleb Oriel is a clergyman who later marries Beatrice Gresham and Patience, good friend of Beatrice…and not forgetting the awful Duke of Omnium and the lovely Martha Dunstable, wealthy and a good friend and confidant of Franks.
Anyway back to Mary, she grows up with the Gresham children and becomes a close friend of the whole family. But she ends up falling in love with Frank the heir of the squire of Greshamsbury and nephew of the Earl and Countess De Courcy.
One problem…the Gresham estate is heavily in debt and his family need him to marry money of which Mary has none.
Frank is pushed to marry a thirty-year-old, not very good-looking and also nine years older than him yet intelligent wealthy heiress, Martha Dunstable. She is very aware of his plan but t hey become good friends and she offers him some sound advice.
The alcoholic Sir Roger is dying and in his will he leaves the bulk of the estate to his equally drunken son Louis Philippe with Dr Thorne as executor. If Louis dies before his 25th Birthday the estate go to his sister Mary’s eldest child which forces Dr Thorne to tell Mary’s story to Sir Roger.
Louis dies and Mary inherits a fortune and marries Frank and the estate is saved and the family can once again hold it’s head up high.
Martyn Wade does such a good job on this and the actors are great…it’s shame more Trollope has not been done as his works are quite considerable.