The Way We Live Now.....?

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The Way We Live Now.....?

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1Urquhart
Modifié : Avr 3, 2008, 4:07pm

Ok, I just finished The Way We Live Now but I don't get it. Could some one please advise re why it is such a wonderful book??????? I regret to say I am a bit 'colorblind' on this book.

For me it just went on and on and then finished.

None of the:
1-Joy, brilliance, pathos, and humor of a Dickens
2-Depth and breadth of a Tolstoy
3-Emotion of a Charlotte Bronte
4-Enjoyable rhythms of a John Galsworthy
5-Delicacy of an Elizabeth Gaskell
6-Charm of a Jane Austin
etc.

Obviously, everyone loves him and I am the odd man out. But what is it that I don't see in the book and that make me color blind?

Thanks...

2littlegeek
Juil 8, 2008, 11:28am

I just started this last night, about half way through chapter 2 and I love it already.

Trollope rocks.

3digifish_books
Juil 10, 2008, 12:04am

4notmyrealname
Juil 10, 2008, 7:33am

What about understated humour, winning plot lines, great bad guys and insightful contemporary social commentary?

5marise
Juil 10, 2008, 2:36pm

Another convert, littlegeek! Yes, I agree, notmyrealname!

6littlegeek
Juil 12, 2008, 6:03pm

I've been a fan for a while, but thanks.

What's great about this book is how contemporarily topical it is. Or a least, it reminds me of a certain time period just prior to the dotcom bubble burst. Nothing really changes, I guess. I'm thinking now we've become he dying empire that is England in the novel, and India, maybe China, is analogus to the America of the 1870's.

*sigh*

7littlegeek
Juil 13, 2008, 3:46pm

Is Sir Felix the scummiest scumbag ever or what? He puts Adolphus Crosbie to shame.

8littlegeek
Juil 14, 2008, 12:59pm

9marise
Juil 14, 2008, 1:43pm

plus c'est la meme chose!

10Foxhunter
Juil 17, 2008, 8:51am

Ce message a été supprimé par son auteur(e).

11stringcat3
Août 1, 2008, 2:24am

I struggled to read Hawthorne's The Marble Faun this week and couldn't force myself to wade through the overwrought prose ("needs must" and "methinks") or care about the cast of ridiculously artificial characters. I kept thinking of how Trollope's prose is as fresh and his characters recognizable today as when he first put ink on paper, yet Hawthorne seems hopelessly archaic. Okay, The House of the Seven Gables was a far better book, and surprisingly funny in places, but I suspect that as a New Englander (by birth and temperament) I cut him serious slack on that one.

12marise
Août 1, 2008, 5:17am

lol, stringcat3, I love Hawthorne, but he does seem to labor where Trollope waltzes along. I have been meaning to go back to House of Seven Gables for a long time. Loved it the first time, but it has been many years.

13littlegeek
Août 7, 2008, 11:56am

I'm about 2/3 of the way through TTWLN, (I've been distracted lately) and I have to say, I'm not enjoying it as much as other Trollope I've read. It's well done, and surprisingly topical, but the characterizations aren't up to those in the Barcester novels. All those young ladies kind of run together (except Ruby Ruggles, of course). Lady Carbury is supposed to be a great character, but she's not in it much and she's not nearly as nuanced or as fun as Mrs. Proudie.

Part of it is that there's really no one to root for. Pretty much every character is in some way corrupt (except Roger Carbury I suppose, but he's a pompous ass) and Felix is downright despicable. I suppose that's the point in a way, that the civilization is breaking down, but it makes it a less satisfying read.

14digifish_books
Août 9, 2008, 3:43am

>13 littlegeek: I sort of know what you mean, littlegeek... TTWLN has so many disreputable characters! I think I was barracking for Hetta Carbury - she seemed to be of the few likeable people. But I did struggle to get through the first half of the book. I found the pace picked up in the second half.

I read somewhere that AT was initially intending the name the book 'Lady Carbury', with the character loosely based on his own mother, the struggling author Frances Trollope. But later, when the plot became mostly about the Melmottes he changed the title.

15littlegeek
Août 9, 2008, 7:59pm

I wrote a review. It's a good book, but not my favourite Trollope by any means. It's just too relentlessly negative. I wasn't even happy for Hetta, though I think I'm supposed to be. I agree with Mrs. Hurtle that Paul is an ass.

Also, I just can't buy that Melmotte would commit suicide. He's been in hot water before and just skipped town, why does he take it so hard now? Can someone else explain it to me?

16digifish_books
Août 14, 2008, 7:55pm

>15 littlegeek: Perhaps his humilating performance in parliament tipped him over the edge? Dunno...

I find the Trollope novels like these, which lack humour, the most difficult to get through. I was surprised (and relieved) that even He Knew He Was Right had some funny scenes.

17BartGr.
Modifié : Août 16, 2008, 5:18am

>15 littlegeek: It has to do, I guess, with the same reasons why he did not flee (as he had done before) and why he misjudged his position vis à vis the impending crisis (his visit to the India office comes to mind). In some way he had come to the end of the road. The Railway fraud was on a much bigger scale than anything he had undertaken before (as Trollope informs us), which made taking refuge abroad more difficult, and he was on the verge of obtaining the respect and dignity that he longed for (his seat in parliament and the marriage of his daughter to English nobility). Maybe that's the paradox of Melmotte: he is a total alien to the old hierarchy and in some way he brings about its implosion (or shows its hypocrisy), but at the same time he desperately wants to be a part of it and be seen as 'a gentleman'.

I have just finished TWWLN (my very first Trollope, by the way!) and I’m very impressed. Great story telling, subtil humour and interesting characters. Trollope obviously takes a harsh view of human nature, but he does not seem embittered or cynical. Although almost every character in this novel is deeply flawed I still found it quite easy to sympathise with them; even Melmotte in the utter loneliness of his downfall seems worthy of at least some pity.

As I said, my very first Trollope. Which raises the obvious question: what next?

18littlegeek
Août 15, 2008, 3:43pm

Barchester novels! The first one is a little character study called The Warden, but the series really gets going with Barchester Towers. These books are much lighter in tone than TTWLN, they even contain some slapstick humour.

19littlegeek
Août 15, 2008, 3:51pm

I guess I equate Melmotte with people like Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay, and can you imagine those guys ever admitting they did anything wrong, or feeling any remorse whatsoever? If you have the cojones to begin that kind of life of white collar crime, you don't suddenly grow a conscience just because they found you out! The whole way you get that many people to follow you down the rabbit hole is by believing your own hype, convincing yourself of the lie. I just don't think it's realistic to have that type of character do a 180.

Just mho.

20BartGr.
Août 15, 2008, 4:20pm

I don't think it's about remorse. In fact, he doesn't show any of that. It's more that he gets what he desires most (respectability, a seat in parliament etcetera) and then loses it and is ostracised again.

Skilling and Lay? Mmm, surely Melmotte is a much darker, Mephistolean character and not just a cheap fraud. I especially liked the description of his last twenty four hours; not unlike the downfall of a great villain in Greek tragedy or Shakespeare.

The Warden it will be. Still 44 Trollope's to go. Woohoo!

21littlegeek
Août 15, 2008, 6:15pm

Well, personally I would say there's little that could be construed as more evil than stealing the retirement funds of 10s of thousands of your own middle class employees, not to mention putting the entire state of California in an state of emergency (I remember those falsely inflated electric bills and brown outs). Melmotte only stole from the aristocracy, so he seems less evil in my book.

but whatever, it's a matter of interpretation.

22BartGr.
Août 16, 2008, 5:36am

It is, of course.

Did anyone else feel Hetta Carbury to be the least interesting character? She doesn't really come to life as the others do. She wants Paul at the beginning of the story and she still wants him at the end, and that's about it.

Oh, and I loved sir Felix Carbury:what a delicious and hopeless good-for-nothing he is!

23stringcat3
Août 16, 2008, 7:54pm

>22 BartGr.: Hetta was, I think, merely a convenience to create the love triangle. A total wet noodle. Why Paul should have prompted such devotion/obsession in two women was a mystery to me.

24littlegeek
Août 17, 2008, 2:07am

#23 What he said. Neither Hetta nor Paul were interesting to me in the least. Mrs. Hurtle was cool, tho, except for following Paul across an ocean.

25BartGr.
Août 17, 2008, 2:33am

I didn't mind about Paul; a bit of a wuss, but still okay. But it's a mystery to me why he preferred Hetta to Mrs. Hurtle, a woman who has fought a duel against her own husband. Just the thing to spice up a dull, Victorian marriage ;-)

26digifish_books
Modifié : Août 17, 2008, 3:31am

It was a bit odd come to think of it. Hetta and Mrs Hurtle couldn't have been more different!

27littlegeek
Août 17, 2008, 12:49pm

I think we are meant to believe that once Paul heard the rumours that she killed her husband, he was slightly in fear for his life. She was pretty emo. But also, a shipboard romance with a divorcee would be a bit scandalous in and of itself at that time. It was like once Paul got home to his own usual environment, and talked to Roger, he had a "what was I thinking" moment.

28stringcat3
Août 20, 2008, 1:56am

>27 littlegeek: Absolutely! Paul is more than a bit of a nebbish and while he had his "walk on the wild side" with Mrs. Hurtle, she was too much for him. I can see why he'd get entangled with her on the ship (forgot to pack his backbone) but why she wouldn't release him once she had her claws in, I can't quite fathom. Wouldn't you think she'd want to have a more worthy opponent - that is, lover?

Hetta and Paul as Mr. are Mrs. Boring. Much more likely a couple than Paul and Mrs. Hurtle.

29BartGr.
Nov 29, 2008, 6:12am

In the mail yesterday the BBC adaptation for television of 'The Way We Live Now'. I'm looking forward to watching it.

30Seajack
Mar 4, 2009, 8:11pm

Cross-posted ...

The actress who plays Marie Melmotte in the BBC production (Shirley Henderson), does a terrific job as Miss Pettigrew's nemesis, Edith, in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day".

31stringcat3
Mar 5, 2009, 1:02am

>30 Seajack: Highly recommend "Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day." Most entertaining.

32stringcat3
Jan 25, 2012, 12:48am

AT pops up in the strangest places. I was at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last week and (cutting to the chase) got into a conversation with a woman who said that she read The Way We Live Now with her son when he was assigned it in his high school English class. Can't imagine being a teen-ager trying to make heads or tails of it. Why in the world are kids always asked to read things that were never meant for them, even the smart ones?

33digifish_books
Jan 25, 2012, 8:16pm

>32 stringcat3: I'm having awful flashbacks of being made to read A Tale of Two Cities when I was 12.. ;)

34notmyrealname
Jan 21, 2016, 11:20pm

No idea why I've just landed across this very old topic, but I've just come back from living in London around the corner from Trollope's flat in Montagu Square, where he wrote The Way we Live Now. Every time I walked past on the way to the Tube I pictured Trollope sitting in the study, writing this book. Heaven for a big Trollope fan.