The Way We Live Now is a complex and compulsive tale that traces the career of Augustus Melmotte, a strange and mysterious financier who bursts into London society like a guided missile. In setting up a dubious scheme based on speculative money and stock market gambles, Melmotte manages to lure in several members of the English aristocracy, for whom money is the summum bonum. The world is at his feet - until the corruption catches up with him.
Considered one of Trollope's greatest works, The Way We Live Now leaves the listener questioning whether much has changed in the last century or whether this, after all, is the way we live now.
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Fun, but no heroes here
- Tad Davis
Anthony Trollope is the ultimate comfort read for me. It's like floating on a sea of Victorian storytelling, where everything comes out right in the end. That being said, The Way We Live Now was not always a comfortable book to read. I don't think it would be my first recommendation for people new to Trollope. The characters aren't quite as sympathetic as some (I think the wrong man got the girl in the end) and the length of this is pretty daunting.
This novel has some serious staying power/relevance. It first popped onto my radar back in the days of the financial crisis when a couple of people I knew told me that this novel was all too close to the then current story of Bernie Madoff. Fast forward two presidential terms later, when I finally get around to tackling it, and Bernie Madoff is old news. It's not him I see most in Augustus Melmotte, the vulgar nouveau-riche man trying to prove himself worthy in London society. "There was one man who thoroughly believed that the thing at the present moment most essentially necessary to England’s glory was the return of Mr. Melmotte for Westminster. This man was undoubtedly a very ignorant man. He knew nothing of any one political question...He had probably never read a book in his life. He knew nothing of the working of parliament...But yet he was fully confident that England did demand and ought to demand that Mr. Melmotte should be returned for Westminster. This man was Mr. Melmotte himself."I wish I thought Trollope was psychic. Instead I am afraid that The Way We Live Now may just be the way we are always going to live. One just wishes that Ivanka showed as much strength of character as Marie.
The reader manages many voices and accents without ever letting his performance overwhelm the material.