The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now

Paperback - 2001
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'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.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 2001.
Edition: Modern Library pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780375757310
Characteristics: xx, 864 p. ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Osborne, Hugh


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Mar 11, 2016

"The Way We Live Now" provides Trollope’s satiric look on the modernizing world of his day and the inability of many individuals to retain a moral compass amid the changes. Throughout the novel, Trollope provides criticism of and sympathy for his characters. Despite many dark portraits and sections, Trollope also provides a lot of humor.

One central theme looks at pervasive dishonesty, located in financial, political, and moral aspects of everyday life. Mr. Melmotte, an extraordinary swindler, was based on fact and anticipates many more financial schemes to come. Trollope makes it clear, though, that the swindler doesn’t act alone—he needs someone willing and able to be fleeced. What Trollope couldn’t anticipate was governments swindling money or perpetrating Ponzi schemes that would make a Melmotte or Bernie Madoff look like pikers.

Highly recommended—except for the first 75 pages, when Trollope sounded like a prudish scold, I thoroughly enjoyed this. There are a few resolutions that feel pat or formulaic, but they did not detract from the pleasure at all.

Jan 18, 2015

I just finished my first Trollope, all 736 pages, and I couldn't put it down. Melmotte reminded me of financiers like Trump and Madoff. The descriptions of how people think and how they make decisions are acute. The author allows the reader to enter into the minds as well as the emotions of his characters, as well as giving the flavor of the life and customs of the time.

debwalker Jun 11, 2011

"One of my resolutions for the summer is to get better acquainted with Anthony Trollope, and so at the top of my list is The Way We Live Now. Somehow long summer days seem the best time to read those 600 or 700-page Victorian novels that you’ve long wished you had read, so that’s what’s at the top of my pile of “to read” books."

Adam Hochschild

Nov 26, 2010

Brilliantly told story of the confict between the classes is scathing in its portrayal of the upper class as a parasite. The wonderful characters are drawn cleverly and modern parallels can be drawn quite easily.

Oct 27, 2007

Trollope describes the darker side of commercialism during the Victorian era.


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