Phineas Finn, the young Irishman come to London to study to be a barrister, is one of the most engaging characters in all of Anthony Trollope's books. He is the son of a country doctor, a gentleman but without any money except what his father allows him as an allowance, but he has something more important, luck. Combined with his charm and a gift of friendship, his luck takes him into the highest circles of Whig politics and before long into a seat in parliament.
This is the first of two books about Phineas (everybody calls him Phineas rather than Mr Finn) in which he makes his way into politics and eventually into a government position paying 2,000 pounds. He is liked and respected by almost everyone in the political world and his future looks certain.
Meanwhile he is looking for a wife and he finds himself in love with Lady Laura Standish, whose drawing room is a meeting place for Whig politicians. But she has accepted a proposal from another man. A year or so later he finds he is now in love with the wealthy Violet Effingham, but his friend, Lord Chiltern, has been in love with her since childhood and doesn't take kindly to Phineas' courtship.
Back in Ireland there's Mary Flood Jones, whom he has been courting in a desultory manner for years. And Phineas finds serving the government chafes when his enthusiasm for Irish tenant rights does not agree with the ministers he must vote with to keep his job.
This is the first book about Phineas Finn. The second is Phineas Redux, in which he once again embarks on a parliamentary career, with his luck still holding, at least for a time. Between them they are about 1,600 pages, and the books never drag. These two are among my favorite Trollope novels.
I'm re-reading this novel with my online Trollope group. The review was originally posted earlier this year.