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Doctor Thorne, Anthony Trollope's third novel in the Barchester series, is the story of devoted fatherhood. The innovative Greshamsbury physician, Henry Thorne, has always done the right and decent thing since his youth; no more so than when, despite his bachelorhood, he offers to take in the unwanted, illegitimate offspring of his older brother, to raise as his own child. At once, little Mary's hopes are his hopes, her dreams his dreams. Her sorrow is his sorrow, her triumph his own.
At twenty-one, Mary is beloved by all at Greshamsbury for her beauty, grace, and goodness — especially beloved by young Francis Newbold ("Frank") Gresham, heir to to the failing family estate, whose "one great duty" is to "marry money" — the sole quality which Mary is most assuredly without. The book traces the victories and youthful scrapes of Frank after his coming of age, and the heroism of Miss Mary, who is ever-true to her love, despite misfortune, prejudice, and persecution.
The novel also follows Sir Roger Scatcherd — another, and an unknowing, uncle of Mary Thorne — and his rise to riches, title, position, and fame. His son and sole heir, Sir Louis — a debauched alcoholic who is also in love with Miss Thorne — has no liking for the young heir to Greshamsbury, and, himself, owns the title deeds to the Gerhamsbury estate. Through it all, Doctor Thorne is the devoted father and wise friend of all.
In Doctor Thorne, Trollope's use of detail, sense of place, and characterization are developed to their finest. Whether enjoying the witty and golden-hearted heiress, Miss Dunstable; the worldly Lady Amelia; the competitive Doctor Fillgrave; the fussy Lady Arabella; or the world-weary Squire Gresham, the reader is sure to find Doctor Thorne a companionable, all-weather friend.
Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope is featured in Vol 13 No 3 of The Storybook Home Journal.