The Duke's children

by Anthony Trollope

Paper Book, 1991





Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1991.


Plantagenet Palliser, the Duke of Omnium and former Prime Minister of England, is widowed and wracked by grief. Struggling to adapt to life without his beloved Lady Glencora, he works hard to guide and support his three adult children. Palliser soon discovers, however, that his own plans for them are very different from their desires. Sent down from university in disgrace, his two sons quickly begin to run up gambling debts. His only daughter, meanwhile, longs passionately to marry the poor son of a county squire against her father's will. But while the Duke's dearest wishes for the three are thwarted one by one, he ultimately comes to understand that parents can learn from their own children. The final volume in the Palliser novels, The Duke's Children (1880) is a compelling exploration of wealth, pride and ultimately the strength of love.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
I prolonged the last few chapters of this last of the Palliser novels as long as I could, not wanting the series to end, not wanting to have to say goodbye to the cast of characters I’ve come to know and love so well …

The well-loved Duchess of Omnium, Lady Glen, is gone now, and the Duke is left to care for his three children, all young adults by this time. The eldest, Lord Silverbridge, has been dismissed from Oxford on account of some certain trouble involving the Dean’s home and red paint. The Duke’s second son, Lord Gerald, is doing moderately well at Cambridge. And Lady Mary, his only daughter, seems intent on what her father deems an unsuitable marriage.

As the story progresses, the Duke will be called upon to guide and to discipline each of his children; and he will be hard pressed to reconsider his previously ironclad notion of “duty.” He comes to share in his children’s joy in a way that the most hard-hearted could only admire, but the getting there – well, there’s the story. Silverbridge and Lady Mary will tax their father to near his wits end with the matter of marriages he deems not befitting their station. When Silverbridge is refused by the suitable Lady Mabel Grex, he falls in love with an independent, spirited American, Isabelle Boncassen. Lady Mary declares she will have no other than Frank Tregear, a young and ambitious, but penniless, politician. The Duke is astounded “that an almost penniless young gentleman was asking in marriage the daughter of the richest and greatest nobleman in England.” (Ch 5) If this weren’t enough headache, Silverbridge enters an ill-fated partnership in the ownership of an ill-fated racehorse with one Major Tifto, “a nasty, brawling, boasting, ill-conditioned little reptile.” (Ch 17) And Lord Gerald is expelled from Oxford whereupon he turns shamefully to the gaming tables and becomes deeply indebted to a family acquaintance.

My favourite quotes are the two following in which the Duke speaks of duty and station, and of money. In the first, he is speaking of his disapproval of Lady Mary’s association with Frank Tregear. And in the second, he is addressing Lord Gerald on the subject of money, following his son’s gambling losses.

On duty/station:
“Disapprove of it! How could it be otherwise? Of course you felt that. There are ranks in life in which the first comer that suits a maiden's eye may be accepted as a fitting lover. I will not say but that they who are born to such a life may be the happier. They are, I am sure, free from troubles to which they are incident whom fate has called to a different sphere. But duty is—duty;—and whatever pang it may cost, duty should be performed.” (Ch 41)

On money:
“Do you ever think what money is? … Money is the reward of labour," said the Duke, "or rather, in the shape it reaches you, it is your representation of that reward. You may earn it yourself, or, as is, I am afraid, more likely to be the case with you, you may possess it honestly as prepared for you by the labour of others who have stored it up for you. But it is a commodity of which you are bound to see that the source is not only clean but noble.” (Ch 65)

The Duke’s Children is a brilliant conclusion to Trollope’s “Parliamentary Novels.” To Simon Vance, with whom I’ve spent so much time – and adored every moment of it – perhaps the best compliment I can offer is that he comes as highly recommended as the venerable author. Most highly recommended – the whole series! But I think this one was my favourite.
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
This is the final novel in Anthony Trollope's Palliser series. The Duke, aka Plantagenet Palliser, has retired from public life. His three children are coming into adulthood with minds of their own and values reflecting a changing society. Their potential marriage choices are particular causes of consternation, and the Duke must also face up to the not inconsiderable baggage he brings to this topic given history between him and his wife Glencora. I really enjoyed this book and it was a fitting way to wrap up the series.… (more)
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
While the Duke of Omnium stayed busy with his political career, the management of the children was largely left to his Duchess. After the Duchess's untimely death, the Duke is forced to take a more hands-on interest in his children's lives just as they've reached adulthood. Although he's been a distant father, he loves his children in his own way. He's financially generous to his children, and he's not a strict disciplinarian. It seems he has only one expectation for his children – that they marry well, meaning within the aristocracy. His children's inability or unwillingness to adhere to his standard adds to his grief after his wife's death.

Everyone but the Duke knows from the beginning of the novel how it will end. The novel is a character study with conflict arising from a “generation gap” in the midst of shifting social standards. Trollope was forced to cut a considerable portion of the novel prior to its original publication. Only recently has Trollope's original text been restored for publication. If I had to guess, I'd say that Trollope's cuts were made at the expense of the political portions of the novel. The earlier Palliser novels have more balance between politics and domestic life. Domestic/private life has more emphasis in this novel, and the political developments at the end of the novel come as a surprise.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
I quite enjoyed the last Palliser novel, which centers on the Duke of Omnium and his three children in the aftermath of Lady Glen's untimely death. Lots of appearances from people we know from the earlier books, some excellent new characters, and a wealth of excellent subplots. As with the Barsetshire series, I was very surprised how compulsively readable these novels were: a real delight, and I'm sorry that I won't have the pleasure of reading them for the first time again. At least there's much more Trollope to be read, though!… (more)
LibraryThing member booksaplenty1949
Abandoned. Lady Mabel Grex's fate was too depressing. Why does Trollope throw so many women under the bus?
LibraryThing member mbmackay
The final book of the Palliser series - and I feel a sense of loss in parting from the characters I have grown to know and enjoy over the last couple of thousand pages. As is standard for Trollope, the plot is not complex and there is no suspense but he paints such rich pictures of the upper class and delivers believable characters. Wonderful stuff. Read April 2011.… (more)
LibraryThing member leslie.98
I am not a fan of the Duke of Omnium, and although this story, as its title says, deals mostly with his children, he retained one of his more annoying characteristics (being obstinate regarding a principle which I didn't find worthy of the effort. In the past, I had more sympathy with his principle but in this case I just felt he was being arrogant.).

I also found Lady Mabel Grex irritating and repetitive.… (more)
LibraryThing member AnneliM
The last of a long series involving the Plantagenet Palliser family.
LibraryThing member stringcat3
This last of the Palliser series is much more entertaining than its predecessor, The Prime Minister. The Duke's son, Lord Silverbridge will remind the reader of a scaled-down Phineas Finn but, I think, more endearing (as Lady Mab has discovered). The Duke himself is more sympathetic than in the previous volumes. In The Prime Minister he was either being overshadowed by his wife, the formidible Glencora, or indulging in those bouts of self-pity and hand-wringing that made most everyone he knew want to slap him. He now has a world of hurt and trouble visited on him in this last Palliser novel, and deserves some measure of, if not sympathy, then at least empathy.

Mrs. Finn, previously Madame Max, gets once more to kick some Palliser butt, and it's highly enjoyable to watch (i.e., read). She reminds me somewhat of Martha Dunstable, later Mrs. Dr. Thorne, but less puckish.

Major Tifto is a quite satisfactory heel, and Dolly Longstaff, now 35-years-young, gets a few aristocratic zingers in.
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LibraryThing member pgchuis
Lady Glencora dies suddenly, leaving the Duke to parent their three children alone. The eldest, Silverbridge, is the part-owner of a race horse and runs up an enormous gambling debt before falling for (shock! horror!) an American. Mary, the daughter, has become engaged to a poor second son with no occupation, but Glencora kept this from her husband and the Duke forbids the match. The younger son, Gerald, also falls into (more minor) scrapes and the Duke becomes generally distressed and horrified. Needless to say it all ends happily.

Not too much hunting and barely any real politics. Isabel, the "American" was entirely lacking in personality and Mary didn't have much beyond loyalty/obstinacy. Mabel was a much more fully-drawn character, but her story was a tragedy and she behaved so badly at the end that I was surprised the narrator treated her in such a sympathetic fashion. The ending was a little abrupt and the final pages particularly so. So Lord Fawn married at last...
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LibraryThing member MacDad
In many respects the last novel of Anthony Trollope's "Palliser" series is about new beginnings -- particularly the beginning of adulthood and the changes that brings about. This is especially difficult for Plantagenet Palliser, the eponymous Duke of Omnium, who must serve as sole parent for his three children after the untimely death of his wife, Glencora. The focus of the novel is on the eldest son, Lord Silverbridge, and the daughter, Lady Mary, who are challenging the duke with their courses in life -- particularly those of matrimony, which the duke finds especially difficult to navigate.

It is not a criticism of the novel to say that it is not the best entry in the "Palliser" series. Perhaps this is because of the editing Trollope was forced to agree to (which led to the excising of a quarter of the novel) in order to publish it, and I am reserving final judgment until after I read the unexpurgated version, which is due to come out in a limited edition later this year, and will hopefully be published for a larger audience later on. As it is, though, it offers a frustrating sense of promise, as it seemed to me that he was introducing a new generation of characters to take on further adventures in the British political world that he wrote about so enjoyably in the previous novels in the series. Alas we are left only with this one, which will have to do as a conclusion to the world of the Pallisers.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
So, I finished this sixth volume in the Palliser series. I loved it! Yes, it is sexist in many ways. However, I focus on the fact that it was written over 100 years ago. A grieving widower feels the burden of settling his grown children financially amd socially. Being a single parent is a timeless theme. Other themes included coping with the changes of the younger generation, the death of the aristocracy, fathets and sons, fathers and daughters, and more. Women are described as limited in their ability to chase their dreams, and must wait for life to happen to them at the whim of others, yet using feminine eiles to manipulate men. Frankly, I just enjoyed the character of the father, trying to cope with grief and change, not an easy pairing. Wonderful series!… (more)
LibraryThing member ritaer
The last in the Palliser series. The Duchess of Omnium dies unexpectedly, leaving her husband to cope with grown children who he knows little of. His daughter falls in love with a commoner who has no property or profession, the heir becomes involved with gambling, then falls in love with a wealthy American and youngest son is sent down from university. All comes right in the end as the Duke reconciles himself to the fact that his children do not regard themselves as bound to follow his advice in matters of the heart. Lady Mabel is touching as another Trollope heroine who loves once only.… (more)
LibraryThing member devenish
This is the final book in the monumental six part 'Palliser' series.I have just (mid January 2010) completed my reading of the whole set and I have throughly enjoyed the experience. It begins with "Can You Forgive Her?" and continues with "Phineas Finn",then "The Eustace Diamonds","Phineas Redux","The Prime Minister",and then finishes with "The Dukes Children". This mainly concerns the Duke of Omnium's heir,Lord Silverbridge and his attempt to marry a girl thought unsuitable by his rather unbending father. The Duke's daughter,Lady Mary,is also proving to be a worry to him,as she is also set on marriage with a near penniless suitor. There are additional trials for the Duke as the gambling debts of Silverbridge and a second son,Gerald need to be dealt with. Trollope has written in an excellent villain in Major Tifto for whom the reader will ,I'm sure find a certain amount of sympathy.
Of course the problems of the Victorian age are not those that have much relevance today,but the strength of the writing carry the story along well.
My one and only criticism of Trollope is in the naming of some of his secondary characters. For example Sir Timothy Beeswax and Miss Cassewary.This seems to me to smack of laziness on the part of an otherwise marvelous writer.
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