The Kellys And The O'Kellys

The Kellys And The O'Kellys - Anthony Trollope As the title indicates, this is a bifurcated tale of two distantly related Irish families, the Kellys being merchant class and the O'Kellys minor Irish aristocrats. In each case there is a threatened love affair with an unattractive male antagonist. For Anty Lynch and Martin Kelly it is Anty's abusive brother, a nasty piece of work determined to possess himself of his sister's half of the inheritance, no matter the means. For Frank O'Kelly, Lord Ballindine, and his beloved Fanny Wyndham, the antagonist is her guardian, Lord Cashel, along with Cashel's wastrel son who pretends to her hand, and once again the primary motive for the villains is money. Trollope amuses himself by juxtaposing the similar bad behaviour of both classes over drastically different amounts of money, and even injects a satiric note at one point by having "the O'Kelly" approach Martin Kelly for a small loan.

Trollope opens this novel with the trial of O'Connell, but is not really a political tale. It delights in distinctive characters (Martin's dominant innkeeper mother, the sinister gambling and horse-racing professional, "Dot" Blake, or self-deluding, inhibited Selina, daughter of Lord Cashel, and nearest complementary female to Fanny.) Trollope also brings in his favourite set piece of a hunt - he points out in his autobiography that he would use any excuse to have a hunting chapter (a personal obsession in his non-writing life).

I found the "Anty" story a bit more compelling than the "Fanny" story - the woman is more vulnerable and less perfect - but the whole was reasonably well integrated and a fun read. Surprised that it sank without a trace, by Trollope's own account.