The Prime Minister is the fifth novel in the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope.
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When neither the Whigs nor the Tories are strong enough to form a government, Plantagenet Palliser, the Duke of Omnium, is called upon to form a coalition government. Palliser is at first unsure he is fit to be Prime Minister, but gradually becomes accustomed to it. To his frustration though, the coalition is too weak to actually accomplish much. Lady Glencora, his wife, hosts frequent magnificent parties in an attempt to garner support.
She gets her husband into trouble when she gives a favorite, Ferdinand Lopez, the impression that the Duke will support his campaign for a seat in Parliament. Lopez persuades Emily Wharton to marry him against the wishes of her family, who prefer Arthur Fletcher. Fletcher is Lopez's political opponent. When it becomes apparent that Lopez has no chance of winning, he withdraws, but then insists the Duke pay his electioneering costs. Palliser is disdainful of this ungentlemanly behaviour, but gives in. When it becomes public knowledge and he is accused of trying to buy a seat for a supporter, he becomes very unhappy.
Meanwhile, Lopez's high-risk business ambitions lead to his disgrace and financial ruin. When his last-ditch attempt to persuade wealthy Lizzie Eustace to run away with him to Guatemala is rejected, he commits suicide. Fletcher eventually coaxes his widow into marrying him.
The coalition government, having served its purpose, is dissolved. The Duke and Duchess are both relieved and disappointed at the same time.
Best part of story, including ending:
None of the main characters, with the exception of Lady Glencora, are particularly appealing. Phineas Finn, the amiable protagonist of two prior books, and his wife do make an appearance though.
Best scene in story:
I suppose the scene when the Duke informs his wife that he has been asked to form a government stands out a bit. Lady Glencora starts scheming straightaway on her husband's behalf in her usual endearingly overenthusiastic (though hardly well-judged) way.
Opinion about the main character:
Palliser is a bit too stiff-necked and weak to be likable, though the reader can sympathize with what he is put through.