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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

The Way We Live Now

by Anthony Trollope

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2,232434,273 (4.18)4 / 223
  1. 00
    The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (Crypto-Willobie)
  2. 00
    Money by Émile Zola (littlegreycloud)
    littlegreycloud: Augustus Melmotte, Aristide Saccard, Bernie Madoff: plus ça change...

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English (42)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Immensely long and rather complicated tale of Victorian greed, many loves both worthy and not so, politics, economics...this book has something for any reader.
The main thread is the rise and fall of the upstart financier Augustus Melmotte. He drives the plot, and every other character arc is attached to his. This may sound tedious in a 700-plus page book, but Trollope is at his best here, weaving disparate story strands seamlessly to make a compelling narrative. There’s only one coincidence that’s a little too convenient, and that’s remarkable in a novel of this type.
Each of the many characters is fully alive and complex.Nearly all of their stories are both believable and interesting. I found the main love story, between Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury seemed a bit vapid, but that barely detracted from a fine novel.
What struck me most while reading this was how topical it seems. We still have shady money men, lazy and entitled young wastrels on the make, and women (and plenty of men) courting and marrying with an eye on the main chance. The current political atmosphere makes this book surprisingly up to date. Certainly this is Trollope’s undying masterpiece.
Highly recommended to anyone. ( )
  bohemima | Jun 1, 2018 |
This Trollope novel has a lot to chew on. I liked the focus on woman who grow to make their own choices about their way in the world. While looking for a husband is part of the package that's up for consideration, it isn't the controlling or final option for the women here.

There is also finance, corruption, publishing and lots of other stuff. It got better and better as I read on (lucky since it was pretty darn long). ( )
  gbelik | Mar 5, 2018 |
How little human nature has changed!

In this timeless satire about greed, Trollope shows off just how well he understands the cowardliness, the laziness, and selfishness of mankind, the wats we use and manipulate people for our own gains.

Everybody started more or less as a satirical caricature of greed and cowardliness and moral depravities. But then Trollope could not help himself and developed depth and and history and motivations to his characters such that even if we cannot approve of these depravities, we can at the very least understand and empathise with these awfully realistic people.

Upon finishing these incredibly detailed character studies, I am amazed by how my feelings towards each character have changed since the start. This is definitely not your usual Victorian novel-of-manners.

The strength of the book lies truly in the comprehensive complexity of the each character. This is of course easier done in the more obviously flawed characters who are somehow more relatable under Trollope's omniscient pen. I cared so little about the "good" people in the end and not just because often goodness in novels equates to boring characters. But that their goodness was mixed with that unbending, illogical stubbornness to cling to idealised principles than to face reality and commonsense. Case in point: I was at first completely invested in Hetta' happiness but when the plot-spotlight was eventually on her, I just didn't care anymore. Contrary to appearances, she is actually the most spoilt of the female characters of her generation. And the most spoilt male award goes to Paul, what a cowardly swine.

Individual praises: As I can't stop mentioning, the characterisations were excellent, tending towards a surprisingly feminist bent, with a few who really stood out in my mind. The evolution of Marie was so organic and powerful, it was a thing to behold; Mrs Hurtle was magnificent, calculating and passionate, modern and independent, I wished her secret soft-heartedness would have allowed her to crush all in her path; the slow humbling of Mrs Carbury, her attempted conniving and clueless meanness were frustrating but so understandably originating from her misguided sense of motherly love that it was almost too real and uncomfortable to read sometimes; and I maintain that out of everyone, Mr Broune, the only actually sensible Good Person, was in fact playing the best long-con game. ( )
  kitzyl | Dec 30, 2017 |
Trollope's writing reads surprisingly contemporary, compared to his peers. Only the occasional long sentences betray him. He writes of a society that is changing, where women are allowed more liberties and able to exert their character and have a say in their marriages. Many of the women in the novel are strong-willed to some extent like Lady Carbury, Marie Melmotte, Hetta, Ruby Ruggles and Mrs. Hurtle. This is in contrast to the men, most of whom are weak, except Roger Carbury and Augustus Melmotte. I can't help thinking that Augustus Melmotte sounded very much like our modern day Trump. ( )
  siok | Sep 15, 2017 |
Trollope's entry in the Great Victorian Novel stakes, a vast, sprawling Vanity Fair for the 1870s, with far too many characters, far too many subplots, and far, far too many pages that pounds smoothly and steadily on over the waves of literary convention like one of the Transatlantic steamships that play such a large part in its plot. Despite all its self-indulgent predictability, it turns out to be a very satisfying and enjoyable book: Trollope is just so infuriatingly good at what he does, and this is Trollope at the top of his form.

Ostensibly, the book centres around the rise and fall of Mr Melmotte, a businessman who has appeared in London from no-one-knows-where with a tremendous reputation for wealth, power and influence, and is soon being courted by investors, politicians, diplomats and - since he has an unmarried daughter - impoverished aristocrats with sons to marry off. Trollope has a lot of fun with the notion that success in modern capitalism has far more to do with someone's reputation for being able to make money than with any actual profitable assets they control. Melmotte's fall is based on as little solid evidence as his initial success - it is not his actual crimes that undermine his credit, but the (false) rumours that he is about to be arrested for them.

But it's probably too narrow to think of this as just a satire of the financial sector - Trollope pulls in all sorts of different aspects of the ways that money, class and gender work together to undermine the moral values that we deceive ourselves into believing we use to guide our lives. Trollope - as usual - digs a bit deeper and cuts a bit sharper than his genial manner conveys, and gives us a little reminder that he was an almost exact contemporary of Karl Marx, whose Kapital had started to appear three or four years before The Way we live now. Not that Trollope was in any way a Marxist, but obviously, those were the ideas that were floating around London at that time.

If Vanity Fair was "a novel without a hero", Trollope also seems to be determined to make this a novel without a villain: neither Melmotte nor the Bad Baronet, Sir Felix Carbury, ever quite manage to dominate the story for more than a scene or two. Trollope keeps undermining their badness and showing us how engagingly weak they are underneath. None of the other men in the book really get out attention for long enough to stand out: there are lots of nice little scenes, but no-one you want to engage with. Even the bachelor squire Roger Carbury, who seems a rather engaging and sympathetic character in the opening chapters, is revealed to us later in the book as a well-intentioned but crashingly pompous bore.

The women do a bit better, but there's only one female character who really leaps off the page, and rather surprisingly that turns out to be the gun-toting American widow-query-divorcée Mrs Hurtle, who gets more grand set-piece scenes than anyone in the book. She breaks all the rules of Victorian fiction and doesn't care who knows it: she even manages to behave outrageously in Lowestoft, something I would not have thought feasible... Meanwhile, Hetta Carbury, who ought by rights to be the romantic heroine, is too feeble to be more than momentarily interesting (as with Thackeray's Amelia, this is probably intentional); the heiress Miss Melmotte shows a certain amount of wit and feminist determination in the later scenes, but Trollope keeps her rather quiet most of the time, perhaps simply because he doesn't want her to turn into a clone of Miss Dunstable. Ruby Ruggles is a one-trick-pony, an anachronistic refugee from a Thomas Hardy novel that hasn't been written yet, and Lady Carbury has potential but is so transparently an affectionate portrait of the author's mother that she has to be kept out of anything more sensational than a few gently comic scenes with editors and publishers. ( )
2 vote thorold | Mar 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brooks, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Osborne, HughNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Let the reader be introduced to Lady Carbury, upon whose character and doings much will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as she sits at her writing-table in her own room in her own house in Welbeck Street.
In the City Mr. Melmotte's name was worth any money,-though his character was perhaps worth but little.
As for Felix,—he had grovelled in the gutters as to be dirt all over. Nothing short of the prolonged sufferings of half a life coild cleanse him.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140433929, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:48 -0400)

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Anthony Trollope (* 24. April 1815 in London; (QG (B6. Dezember 1882) war ein englischer Schriftsteller und einer der erfolgreichsten und meistgelesenen Romanautoren der viktorianischen ra. Er gilt mit insgesamt 47 Romanen, etlichen Reisebeschreibungen, Erzhlungen, Essays, Biographien und einem B(4)(Bhnenst(4)(Bck als literarischer Rekordschreiber. Sechs seiner Romane handeln in der imaginren Grafschaft Barsetshire. (Auszug aus Wikipedia)… (more)

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