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The Way We Live Now [Paperback]

Anthony Trollope , David Brooks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 14 2001 0375757317 978-0375757310 New edition

'Trollope did not write for posterity,' observed Henry James. 'He wrote for the day, the moment; but these are just the writers whom posterity is apt to put into its pocket.' Considered by contemporary critics to be Trollope's greatest novel, The Way We Live Now is a satire of the literary world of London in the 1870s and a bold indictment of the new power of speculative finance in English life. 'I was instigated by what I conceived to be the commercial profligacy of the age,' Trollope said.

His story concerns Augustus Melmotte, a French swindler and scoundrel, and his daughter, to whom Felix Carbury, adored son of the authoress Lady Carbury, is induced to propose marriage for the sake of securing a fortune. Trollope knew well the difficulties of dealing with editors, publishers, reviewers, and the public; his portrait of Lady Carbury, impetuous, unprincipled, and unswervingly devoted to her own self-promotion, is one of his finest satirical achievements.

His picture of late-nineteenth-century England is a portrait of a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy. In The Way We Live Now Trollope combines his talents as a portraitist and his skills as a storyteller to give us life as it was lived more than a hundred years ago.

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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."

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars The Way We Still Live Now March 10 2002
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. This has often been called Trollope's best novel: while it does not contain his best writing (which would be found in individual chapters of PHINEAS FINN and THE LAST CHRONICLER OF BARSET), nor is it his funniest (BARCHESTER TOWERS), it is his most consistently engaging in its details of a railway bubble in mid-Victorian London. The great financier at the center of it, Augustus Melmotte, rises from obscurity to be asked to host a dinner for the visiting emperor of China (which forms a splendid setpiece for the novel) on the eve of his financial ruin. The novel is very exciting and enjoyable, and shows Trollope straining the hardest to meet the standards set by his admitted hero, Thackeray; although this certainly doesn't meet the level of VANITY FAIR, it's still pretty good. There is a bit of a trouble that Trollope has too many subplots going and winds up spending hundreds of pages at the end (long after the work's main action is over) having to resolve them. One of the very best of these ongoing stories, the desperate attempts of the contemptibly snobbish (but still oddly sympathetic) Georgiana Longstaffe to find a husband, is as a result resolved much too suddenly and unsatisfactorily. I would still recommend THE WAY WE LIVE NOW as a fine read--and as a very splendid introduction to Trollope.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enron-style Scandal in Victorian London Jan. 28 2002
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 take a back seat here).
Readers following the recent stock market slide and the collapse of Enron will find parallels here, both disturbing and amusing. Mr. Melmotte and his phony railroad joining San Francisco to Vera Cruz have strong links to real-life characters and scams like the criminal financiers responsible for the savings and loan debacle of the '80s and the guys at Enron who are currently facing Congressional investigation.
In addition to the financial shenanigans, there is of course a wonderful cast of characters, including Sir Felix Carbury, a wastrel who would rob his own mother (and does), Mr. Roger Carbury, a fine, upstanding man (who always has to deliver -- and receive -- bad news), and Mrs. Hurtle, an American "widow" who knows a thing or two about masculine psychology.
Great literature speaks to us across the ages, and The Way We Live Now might tell us something about keeping an eye on our portfolios -- and our ethics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Dec 25 2001
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.
Trollope creates fantastic characters from the saintly/virginal society girl who pines for a lover, to a dastardly gentleman who squanders his families small fortune on rather unsavoury habits such as gambling and less than scrupulous women.
Most of this is told through the perspective of the matriarch of one family (Lady Carbury) who's only wish is that her son (a scoundrel at best) marry well and with any luck above his station (which he tries to sabotage at every turn) and for her daughter to marry into wealth at any cost whatsoever. That with the general gossip and the "Newcomer's from Paris" (The Family Melmotte) who left Paris hurriedly it seems under a rather dark cloud of suspicion will keep you glued to this book throughout. It is a very lengthy novel (481 pages) but you will be desperately turning the pages in the Appendix hoping for just a bit more!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely
No one in this book is good. Everyone is flawed and corrupt. It is also a book about greed and social transition. Wonderful.
Published 1 month ago by Scott
3.0 out of 5 stars An oldie, but a goodie
This is a nineteenth century period piece with the usual dated cliches, etc. etc. but worth reading because of that.
Published 15 months ago by Sue Carson
4.0 out of 5 stars A True Index of Character
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2012 by Jeffrey Swystun
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 15 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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