When there are no customers I peregrinate around the bookstore and read bits here and there. Now I pick up in turn Barchester Towers and Conrad’s Victory and read the first chapter of each. What strikes me: Trollope’s description of the grief of the woman servant, who closes the old bishop’s eyes after his death, as a “casual grief”; she dabs at her eyes with a corner of her apron, as servants everywhere must do. And Axel Heyst is bald! – something I do not remember at all from the first reading. I would like to be skewered by an incisive satirist from the nineteenth century, like Thackery – what a relief that would be, as if a doctor had at last diagnosed a mysterious ailment that you’ve been pondering on your own for ages.