This is the fourth of Trollope's Barsetshire novels. He is always (to me) an engaging companion and a wonderful chronicler of middle class life in Victorian England and Ireland. He is also especially acute on the working of political and ecclesiastical organisations, especially the connections between ambition and petty rivalries on the one hand and the core beliefs underlying religious and other ideological groupings. He gently exhorts us not to lose touch with those core belief.
Trollope generally eschews overt drama in favour of quiet observation and gentle insights into human nature. He is also extremely good on money in all it's practical aspects - the many ways the search for wealth or the effects of poverty can encroach on attempts to live decently and indeed to survive in an uncertain and class-obsessed society.
Framley Parsonage is one of his finest works, and not a bad place to start for new readers (you do not need to have read the previous works in the sequence to thoroughly enjoy it). At its core is the common human dilemma of a young, mildly ambitious man, rising rapidly through the ranks of the Anglican hierarchy, who is seduced by the lure a 'set' who live not just beyond his means but, in some cases, even beyond their own. The perils of debt is a theme Trollope often explored and it was a painful aspect of his own early life and perhaps a spur to his extraordinary work ethic. Mark Robarts is a good man who has to learn from mistakes any of us could identify with.
Bu there are many other themes and a range of rich characterisation and interlaced plots in a novel which is superbly crafted and gently pulls the reader along, including, of course, a charming romantic sub-plot (a love across social classes) which was seemingly a great talking point at the time of its serial publication.
I believe this is one of Trollope's most satisfying works. It also concludes with a meditation on marriage in general and the various marriages portrayed in the novel which I found balanced and profound.
The introduction to this edition gives some excellent insights and a context for understanding the role of the Church of England at the height of it's authority, but also at a point when the beliefs underlying that authority were about to be threatened and ultimately to go into a long decline.
Convincingly argues that its narrative of "precarious livings and tenancy" displaces to Barsetshire topical concerns about land ownership and occupation in Ireland. (Matthew Ingleby, The Times Literary Supplement)