Like most of Trollope's books this is a long one. It was his second published novel. It tells of two families from different ranks in society in Ireland and, in particular, the desire of a son from each family to marry into wealth. Although the two young men are desperate to get hold of some money - and marrying a wealthy heiress seems the only way - they do actually love the young woman they want to win. The story is full of wonderful characters and there is a great deal of humour in the repartee when they meet. Both families, however, have within them those who are only concerned about what they can gain by preventing the young women from entering into a marriage contract. Lord Cashel, the guardian of Fanny Wyndham, is desperate to marry Fanny off to his profligate son, who is deeply in debt, when he learns she is heir to her brother's fortune. But Fanny is in love with Francis O'Kelly the handsome, young Lord Ballindine. The other young man seeking to marry into money is the Catholic tenant of Lord Ballindine, Martin Kelly, though in comparison to what Fanny is due to inherit, the £400 dowry that the beautiful yet poorly educated Anastasia Lynch will receive is not much. The dark and dreadful character in her life is her good-for-nothing brother, Barry Lynch. He attempts to get hold of her money by trying to have her declared mentally unfit. When he fails in this he tries to murder her.
We are able to see, hear and smell the difference between the splendid, yet gloomy house of Lord Cashel and the village life of Martin Kelly and the small village inn owned by Martin's mother. A great read!