In Phineas Finn, the second of the Palliser series, Trollope balances the rival demands of public and private life, entangling political ambitions with the experiences of love. Phineas Finn, an irresistible but penniless young Irish barrister enters Parliament and comes to London leaving behind him an Irish...
sweetheart, Mary Flood-Jones. In London, Phineas wins friends on all sides and is admitted into high society. However, he also falls more-or-less in love, first with politically-minded Lady Laura Standish, then with Violet Effingham, and finally with wealthy widow Madame Max Goesler.
With his character, reputation and prospects at stake, Phineas must make some ethical choices in regards to his career, political beliefs and romantic life - but what must he sacrifice?
Trollope deals with a diverse set of topics including reform and the Irish question, the position of women in society, and the conflict that integrity and ambition pose, the latter still being as relevant today as it was in the 1860s.
Phineas Finn is the first of Trollope's works to feature the affairs of the parliamentary world as a major interest.
Three of the main characters are based on Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, and the English reform politician John Bright.