I absolutely agree with Larry (reviewer from San Antonio); Trollope couldn't find a better narrator than Timothy West.
Trollope constantly surprises us, he never takes the easy option - none of his characters is totally good or totally bad. For instance, one starts off wanting Mrs Hurtle to be a villain and Paul Montague a hero, but neither turns out to be either. Even Melmotte himself is not the devil incarnate.
My only problem is that I have read most of Trollope! However, if Timothy West is the narrator, I will listen again to books I have already read.
I am in love with Timothy West's narration. This book was rivetting! So much so, that I am going to travel from Australia to London to soak up Trollope's world next month and prowl around. The story and the characters became more real to me than my own daily experiences, almost. Trollope always presents the character and the problem from many different and fascinating perspectives. I could not put this reading down. I used to go for ten mile walks each day so I could listen to it uninterrupted. Beyond marvellous!! Thank-you Timothy West for your ineffably wonderful narration.
I've listened to six of Trollope's novels. I love them ll but I'd rate this the finest. It explore's with merciless humour the struggle between the bankrupt gentry who need to marry new money they despise, and the nouveau riche who want to buy themselves higher rank. At the centre of it is a great crook running a Ponzi scheme. The novel remains totally relevant to our times. The reading is excellent.
As Trollope is beyond praise, it remains to be said that with audio the qualities of the narrator are as vitally important as a musician interpreting a great composer. Timothy West is a narrator whose performance does justice to the greatness of Trollope, and that is not easy for this novel is packed with male and female characters. West does a marvelous job interpreting them all, and is equally successful interpreting the novelist himself, for Trollope is an ever-present voice in all his works. I got enormous pleasure listening to this long, long novel.
This was a fantastic melodrama, worthy of being compared with any other Victorian novel, with a large cast of characters, a dozen subplots, and a biting, satirical wit that Trollope applied to what he saw as the greed and lack of class evident in London in his day. Other reviewers have commented on how Augustus Melmotte is entirely believable as a 19th century Bernie Madoff, and his ponzi scheme house of cards has been seen over and over again on Wall Street. But if The Way We Live Now were just a book about greedy high society types being taken in by a con man, it wouldn't have as much to recommend it. What makes this book great are the characters, from Melmotte himself to the many other players large and small, all of whom do wind up being interconnected in some way, though not all tie into the central storyline.
Of course a great deal of the book is taken up by marital intrigue -- that is to say, pretty much everyone is trying to get married. Some are trying to marry for love, some for financial security, some start seeking one and wind up choosing the other, but there are so many couples and would-be couples in this book, you almost need a dance card. They're each and every one of them different, with their own vividly described motives. Some are dastardly, some are grasping, some are naive and sweet, some are vulnerable, some are just weak. A few are even noble. But it's all a grand drama, and Trollope, paid by the word like most authors in his day, gets to indulge the reader in chapters full of resolution for each individual character in a way that modern novels, which favor tightness and paring away of unnecessary subplots and secondary characters, don't allow. It's a big, wordy book but if you like dramas, every bit of it is entertaining.
Timothy West really livened up the reading with perfect dry English wit to bring out Trollope's satirical tone. One of the best narrators I've heard on Audible.com; every character, even the women, was distinct.
Absolutely superb narration, yes this book is long but I never lost interest for even a second.
Timothy Wests interpretation of all the characters voices was utterly masterful.
Timothy West is fantastic. I will look for other books read by him for sure. This story is great too. It's long, but well worth it. Repeatitive at times, but that's probably good because it's mostly recaps to remind the listener about the multitudes of characters. There are so many hilarious moments in this book that simply sneak up on the reader. You won't regret this purchase!
I had thought this 32 hour opus would take several weeks, with a couple of breaks for other items, to get through - not so! I paused for another title once, but soon found myself wanting to get back to the soap-opera-like storyline. Trollope's satire shines through here with the nobility busy spending money they don't have, while scheming to marry their kids to "commoners" who've got some, publicly slobbering over the crass Melmotte while he's splashing around all that dosh. West's outright brilliant narration makes the book a slam dunk purchase.
If you're familiar with the BBC production (starring David Suchet), the book itself goes into greater detail regarding the characters, especially Melmotte's daughter, Marie.
At or near the top of best audible books so far
I purchased this book after hearing it recommended on Slate's Culture Gabfest - thank you Audible for continuing to sponsor that most excellent podcast. The story was my chief entertainment during a 20 hour solo trip during the holiday. At first I wasn't sure about my choice as the characters seemed disagreeable and the plot slow. I will admit it wasn't until the 7th or 8th hour that I admitted I was hooked. By the end I felt I was parting with dear friends. It has been said that when writing of universal themes an author must be as specific as possible. This story is a perfect example. Characters' inner thoughts, feelings, motives and decisions are given in great detail. Each one is given so much attention and consideration they are more then fleshed out - they live and breathe on the pages.
The plot points center on 18th century British economics - no apparent regulated stock exchange and landed incomes starting to give way to "trade" wealth - and the kind of British social manners that are too far removed from our own time to even be called quaint. Even so, the larger ideas rise easily above. Romantic love versus personal self interest and economic security can be recognized as a push and pull between greed and generosity. The value of work and dangers of prosperity from idleness and deceit are explored. Throughout, the author's tone remains affectionate about his characters and their troubles. At the end I felt optimism about the word and human nature.
I feel quite certain this is a story I will listen to again - even with its great length. So many ideas are contained within that one go isn't enough to absorb them all. If you love Austen, Wharton, Elliott etc and haven't yet discovered this story I recommend it highly.
Timothy West's talent is remarkable. His accents and modulations gave life to characters and his dramatic reading of dialogue brought scenes to life in a way that trumps the imagination. He managed female characters credibly and beautifully, which given his full rich male voice is a true actorly feat. I also appreciated the affectation of provincial british accents, which gives color to the various social circles covered in the story. John Crumb, a man of few words himself, lives in my mind because of the voice given him by Timothy West.
The story of Mrs Hirtle (sp?) was beautifully told. Her passions and desires are strongly felt and I found it impossible not to root for her entirely. I also was greatly moved by Roger Carbury's thoughts on friendship and his general sense of responsibilities toward others. Described often by the author as someone not prone to "thinking" I found his conclusions and decisions to be very moving and inspiring. Truly reflecting the best of what it means to love. If only he and Mrs. Hirtle could have made something together...
I never expected 19th century fiction to be as relevant and delicious as this is. You have it all - a devilishly witty narrator, a self-destructive gambling son and his over-protective mother, a european ponzie scheme based on american railroad speculation, and aristocratic characters motivated by trivial, petty, and self-destructive psychology. I would love to see this novel turned into a movie or series. Very British yet so contemporary.