He Knew He Was Right
Written by: Anthony Trollope
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
Length: 30 hrs and 32 mins
The first time I encountered Anthony Trollope’s most popular work, He Knew He Was Right, was in a BBC production. My teen aged children and I enjoyed it. I had not read the book that the mini-series was based on. When I was offered the opportunity to review the book narrated by Nigel Patterson, I was happy to finally get a chance at the source.
He Knew He Was Right was written in 1869. It is very important that the listener keep that in mind. It was a very different world, especially for women. The book follows Louis Trevelyan, a wealthy gentleman, who while traveling in one of the Empire’s colonies (it is a fictitious colony)
meets the girl of his dreams, Emily Rowley. Although Emily has been raised outside of England, she does come from a good family as her father is the governor of the colony. Emily and her family travel back to England for the wedding. The first two years of marriage are wonderful complete with a baby boy. Then Louis begins to take exception to an old family friend, a man her father’s age, visiting Emily. He demands she no longer see the man because he suspects infidelity. Emily digs her heels in and refuses to end her harmless friendship. Louis takes it as proof that he wife is not faithful.
There are several subplots to this book, which is over 300 pages in print and 30 hours in audio. The subplots involve other couples including Emily’s sister, Nora. Each couple has their own challenges to overcome, several involving social standing or economic position. While the subplots are interesting, it is Louis and Emily’s story that is the main attraction.
I did have to keep reminding myself of the 1869 publication date because I had a persistent and overwhelming need to slap Louis. Emily never, in deed or word, gives him cause to doubt her but he is so insecure he cannot trust her. It is a combination of Emily’s stubbornness and Louis’s insecurity that cause this to blow up into a major disaster involving both families and dividing friends. That being said, it really is a great book and worth the impulse to slap Louis.
Mr. Patterson does a great job narrating this book. He captures the characters and their emotions. He also handles the language well. Sometimes narrators can allow the more formal language of the 19th century to sound stilted but Mr. Patterson does not. He makes the language flow naturally. I have not had a disappointing listen from Mr. Patterson yet. If you are going to invest in He Knew He Was Right as an audiobook, get the right one with Nigel Patterson as the narrator.