This is a satirical look at immorality and dishonesty as Trollope saw them in the worlds of business, politics, journalism, literature, and society on his return from the colonies in 1872. Scoundrels, coquettes, swindlers, and intriguers abound in this novel, which is often called his masterpiece.
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"One of the great English Victorian novelists....A sharp but sympathetic observer of Victorian social and political life." (Daniel S. Burt, The Biography Book)
There is simply nothing like this novel for its modest, truthful, loving, and poetic view of human activity. It is wonderfully read by Flo Gibson, and the audiobook is absorbing from beginning to end.
One caveat, though, like many British writers of his time, Trollope has clearly anti-semitic views. Not as vile or extreme as Shakespeare or Dickens, but the implicit and casual anti-semitism might be unacceptable for some readers. I am jewish and I can deal with it, but I can imagine others finding it intolerable.
This is my first Trollope novel and I enjoyed it about as much as a George Eliot novel but not as much as a Charles Dickens.
Flo Gibson is a very good narrator but she read with a peculiar rhythm which I found distracting. Also, the quality of the recording was a disappointment, with the volume fluctuating and the voice frequently sounding muffled. I have noticed this flaw with other Flo Gibson recordings (eg. Mill on the Floss).
I could not get past the narrator's voice, it ruined the enjoyment of this audio book for me. Flo Gibson has got to be the worst choice ever, her voice goes up and down at random, with an uneven inflection. I gave up in frustration and borrowed the book from the library instead.
This was my first Trollope novel, and I enjoyed it entirely. The sound quality is a bit uneven, but the lively characters and the masterly commentary make this both entertaining and profitable reading. It is satire; you are meant to chuckle or shake your head over these characters rather than identify closely with them. Still, there are lessons to be learned from many of them.
Contrary to an earlier reviewer's comment, I think it is clearly wrong based on this novel to state that Trollope was anti-semitic. Certain of the characters display very sharp, almost absurd anti-semitic views. Yet it is the Jewish banker, Mr. Breghert, who is one of the nobler characters in the story. You should also be prepared for the anti-American views expressed by many of the English characters in the story. Here again, however, one of the nobler and most interesting characters in the novel is the American, Mrs. Hurtle.
This is an average to good story. I'm not with those who would call this Trollope's best. Most of the characters I found extremely unlikable, in large part because even the "good" ones were annoying in that they certainly could have used a little more spine.
But the real difficulty for me was the narrator's voice and reading cadence, which was VERY annoying and unenjoyable.
I love Trollope, and I think this is his very best book. Great characters and a very dramatic plot. I'd highly recommend the book to anyone who likes Victorian novels or anyone who wants a little historical perspective on our current financial crisis. The main character would have fit in real well in the Wall Street of today. At times I absolutely loved Flo Gibson's narration. She was especially good in doing the various dialects for some of the minor characters. She did a good job of differentiating among the different characters' voices. But sometimes there was a kind of singsong quality that was quite distracting. However, as the book went on, I think she got more into the book, and I didn't find her style as distracting.
Narrative makes the world go round.
Good social satire but, as in other Trollope novels, the beginning of episodes as they must have been originally published are often evident and can be very repetitve summations of previous "installments." Because this was my main listen over a couple of weeks, I found the novel at times tedious, but at other times very comic and, well, "Trollope." So - if you are looking for a 19th century social satire to listen to in bits and pieces, here and there, this might be enjoyable; but as a "long listen," the novel seemed to me flawed. (It contains excellent Trollope passages, though, so I can't seem to rate below four stars.)
Flo Gibson is not a favorite narrator of mine, and she read this one at even more of a gallop than usual -- but this somehow suited the novel's tone and helped ease the more tedious passages. As other reviews point out, Trollope expresses the contemporary antisemitism, but I also wonder if in THIS novel he is not also satirizing his society's anti-semitism along with classism? I'm not sure ---This is where print pages are useful in examining and referring back to the tone and attitude of passages.
The Way We Live Now is my favorite Trollope work and Trollope has written many a wonderful book. But this particular work stands high, not merely as a work of Trollope's, but as something unique in literature. Non-stop-entertaining is this timeless tale of out-size egotistical ambition. What a story! I never stop being amazed at Trollope's almost casual style. No matter how big and complex he can convey us effortlessly and delightfully through all the tortuous machinations of multitudinous characters. His touch is light and clever and fresh, yet he spans the panoply of human motives and emotions, as he relates a fully-colored and complex story. And no one is better at fleshing out genuine, living people, running the gamut of personalities; Lady Carbury who hopes to achieve a little notoriety (and cash) through novel-writing, her long-suffering daughter, Hetta, her appallingly selfish son, Felix, her elderly swain, newsman Mr. Braun; the fabulous con-man Melmont, plus an entourage of clods, critics, cynics, sycophants and swindlers; all contrived with humor, wit and depth. I have read (listened to) The Way We Live Now many times; it is so vivid as to be almost cinematic; I see the action and the characters in their outrageous glory each time I listen to it.
"Hopeless reading. Avoid"
I agree completely with the other reviewers - a completely inappropriate accent, and not a very good reader either. I wouldn't even want to listen to her reading something appropriate like Edith Wharton. Why do publishers do it?
This is so disappointing. It is difficult to imagine why an American female reader has been given the priviledge of reading Trollope. She reads too fast, uses American pronunciation and has a limited range of cadences that are inapproriate for the English language as opposed to American - yet I can see no version in English of this great novel. I shall struggle on developing my own interpretation as I go....
"Listen Before you Buy!"
I agree with the majority of other reviews I have seen. For some reason the producers of this audio book have used an American lady who has a voice not particularly attractive itself and totally at odds with Trollope's prose. When I first heard it I wondered if somehow it had been downloaded at the wrong speed, because it sounds very much like a man's voice speeded up. This will be a lesson to me to make sure I listen to a sample of the reader's voice before purchasing in future!
I love Trollope but the narrator renders this book boring and unlistenable. Please preview before you buy (I didn't but won't be making that mistake again!)
"wasted my credit!"
I was looking forward to a orgy of hours listening to Trollope but did not notice the name of the reader or listen to a sample - silly me. i shall not listen to this book and would prefer if it were possible, to give it no stars at all. I will use my next months credit to download the same title but with a different reader.
"Don't buy it!"
Appalling and very disappointing. An awful American woman speaking far too quickly is an insult to Trollope and his wonderful writing - I've tried, but I can't bear to listen to it.
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