Can You Forgive Her? is the first of the six Palliser novels. Here Trollope examines parliamentary election and marriage, politics and privacy. As he dissects the Victorian upper class, issues and people shed their pretenses under his patient, ironic probe.
Alice Vavasor cannot decide whether to marry her ambitious but violent cousin George or the upright and gentlemanly John Grey - and so finds herself accepting and rejecting each of them in turn. She is increasingly confused about her own feelings and unable to forgive herself for such vacillation - a situation contrasted with that of her friend Lady Glencora, forced by "sagacious heads" to marry the rising politician Plantagenet Palliser in order to prevent her true love, the worthless Burgo Fitzgerald, from wasting her vast fortune. In asking his readers to pardon Alice for her transgression of the Victorian moral code, Trollope created a telling and wide-ranging account of the social world of his day.