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The Way We Live Now [Paperback]

Anthony Trollope
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 9 2008 0199537798 978-0199537792
At first savagely reviewed, The Way We Live Now (1875) has since emerged as Trollope's masterpiece and the most admired of his works. When Trollope returned to England from the colonies in 1872 he was horrified by the immorality and dishonesty he found. In a fever of indignation he sat down to write The Way We Live Now, his longest novel. Nothing escaped the satirist's whip: politics, finance, the aristocracy, the literary world, gambling, sex, and much else. In this world of bribes andvendettas, swindling and suicide, in which heiresses are won like gambling stakes, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury, a 43-year-old coquette, 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix, with the 'instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte, the colossal figure who dominates the book, a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel ... a bloated swindler ... a vile city ruffian'.

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Trollope's 1875 tale of a great financier's fraudulent machinations in the railway business, and his daughter's ill-use at the hands of a grasping lover (for whom she steals funds in order to elope) is a classic in the literature of money and a ripping good read as well. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"The Way We Live Now is the essence of Trollope. If he had written no other novel, it would have ensured his immortality."

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A True Index of Character Oct. 14 2012
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Much has been said about how nothing changes in business and finance. That the same lessons are painfully relearned with echoing outrage from previous events of a similar nature. The Way We Live Now holds parallels to the financial crisis of 2008 as it has with the dot com bubble, the Great Depression and all other such events and their greedy machinations. But what this book actually showcases are the foibles of people in pursuit of wealth. The stinging indictment being we people cannot outgrow our base behaviours. And in that comparison we can match the novel's characters with people we ourselves know, others we learn of in the news and, in fact, ourselves.

This is Trollope's longest novel ... his Bleak House. And like that Dickens novel it requires patience but there is reward. This is a stunning satire replete with rich messages. Trollope's characters tend to be a little less full than Dickens but his contribution are never-ending bon mots of observations and critiques. Consider these lines:

- "He kept his head above water, and was regarded by those who knew about him, but did not know him, a successful man." In one sentence the author captures how society ascribes a pedigree to someone without the requisite facts to do so

- "And her face was a true index of her character." A terrific brief line which is at once detailed but puts the effort back on the reader to envision the character in full

My favourite aspect of the novel was the subplot damning the publishing industry. Many of the observations could apply to today's bloggers and self-publishers...those who deliver no new content but get "puffed" or promoted. This is the Lady Carbury plot line which is deliciously vacuous ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like it happened yesterday. June 27 2002
By B. Gone
This book was my first encounter with the works of Anthony Trollope. While it is not entirely surprising that Trollope's legacy is overshadowed by the ones of contemporaries like Dickens, Austen, Elliot and Thackeray, this book gives such a juicy historic precursor to the Enron and WorldCom scandals, that it deserves a spot on the current bestsellers list.
In detailing the rise and fall of the swindler-turned-tycoon Melmotte and the pathetic tendency of the bankrupt gentry to simultaneously woo and despise him, Trollope gives us a satire for the ages. Moreover, the repeated dogma that it's OK to do the wrong thing and have the wrong friends as long as everybody else is doing it, is also right on the money. While Theodore Dreiser took the psychological analysis of the swindler to a whole other level in his "The Financier", Melmotte is still a wonderfully well rounded crook.
The second memorable character is lady Carbury. Trollope shaped her and her literary aspirations after his own mother. While I was not too impressed with the exposure of the "literary world" that her character allowed, the lady is a nice archetype of the survivor, who yet is willing to sacrifice everything for her loser son.
Apart from these main characters, archetypes, there is a large supporting cast adding themes of love, betrayal, abuse and manipulation. While many of the players provide the context of a society sucking up to Melmotte, the great number of themes and intrigues leads to too much diffusion of the central theme. While characters like Roger Carbury and Ms. Hurtle are well rounded, the resolution of their "issues" is rather lackluster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking to know Trollope...try elsewhere April 16 2002
... Too many plots, characters not given enough space to breathe, and way too much wrap-up yields a less than satisfying experience. But Trollope is a great writer, and when he's on top, as he is often throughout this book, he is untouchable. The Beargarden is astonishing, and has anyone ever written about so many different wastrels and made them all unique? Georgina and her brother Dolly could make a novel themselves. Poor Marie....desperate to be loved. Very touching stuff.
But the main story gets lost under so much weight that the overall novel loses its focus and just stunbles to a number of unconvincing conclusions. My favorite book is He Knew He Was Right. The sub-plots there enhance the story, and the characters are more vivid and less simplistic.
If you're here after the PBS series, note please...that series is adapted from this novel. There is a lot missing and a lot changed (all to the worse, I would argue). If you are new to Trollope, I would suggest The Palliser series or HKHWR. This is much less worth the time, though still a sparkling read with brilliant flashes.
Anti-Semitism? People are too touchy. The characters are certainly narrow-minded bigots, but Trollope himself is clear and potent. The "old, fat Jew" is among the most noble, most intelligent, and touching characters in Trollope. A gentleman, a sincere man, and one touched by the ugliness of his world but rising majestically above it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant satire of Victorian society, The Way We Live Now reads today as a strikingly modern novel. Almost all of the characters are horrible: Mrs. Carbury, a witless writer of romance novels; her wastrel gambler of a son; and the ruthless, vicious businessman Melmotte, a precursor of Rupert Murdoch. An indictment of his times that still holds power today, and a brilliant, hilarious satire.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Way We Still Live Now
The Enron collapse shows that, as long as we continue to enjoy the benefits of capitalism in the West, Trollope's most famous novel will continue to be timely. Read more
Published on March 10 2002 by Jay Dickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Enron-style Scandal in Victorian London
Trollope's sharp eye for detail in the social, economic and spiritual aspects of society never fails (although the spiritual aspects that so many enjoy in the Barsetshire novels... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2002 by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This work of literature encompassing life among the upper-crust of society in Victorian England is by far the best fictional representation I have ever read. Read more
Published on Dec 25 2001 by M. S. Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Trollope's Master Work
It is most when reading (or re-reading) Trollope that I realize how much recent novels suck. Trollope, who regarded novel-writing as a learned trade, shows wider understanding of... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by Gleeb
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Yet
This is the fifth of Trollope's novels I have read and easily the best so far. It does not fall within any of his series but a few familiar characters breeze in and out if you are... Read more
Published on July 16 2000 by Peter Leech
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Dickens, Trollope is where it is at!
I consider it to be a tragedy that Anthony Trollope's works are largely forgotten and overlooked by the reading public. Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999 by Mollie Harmon
2.0 out of 5 stars A look at how people react to money.
The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope shows how people react to money. Even though it was written in eighteen-seventy-four, people can still react to the characters because... Read more
Published on June 1 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way We STILL Live Now
Picture a world in which a shadowy entreprenour rubs shoulders with the great and powerful, while hard-driving yuppies stop at nothing to be associated with his schemes. Read more
Published on April 11 1998 by James Paris
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