©2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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.
"Not Palliser, nor in Barsetshire but still perfect"
it seems a truth universally acknowledged on Audible that Timothy West ought to be knighted for his services to Trollope.
I particually loved his Lord Nidderdale- but it's just as well Marie Melmotte never meets Mme Max Goesler from the Pallisers as it seems they have to share, more or less, the same 'female of indeterminate European origin' voice between them.
Marie was rather the weak spot in the story for me- I thought Trollope treated her rather harshly in the end and should have picked out a better husband for her.
"A fabulous narration of an excellent story"
Fantastically read by Timothy West. He really brings all the characters to life. I got through the 32 hours in no time! A must for Trollope fans.
"A Chamaeleon Voice - a Compelling Tale"
A question of apples and oranges - so the print version would be perfect for a month of armchair-bound rainy afternoons, the audible book works excellently on endless trips down tedious motorways.
An impossible question as so much is perfect; but John Crumb's assault on Sir Felix Carbury is beautifully delivered; the Bear Garden Club's members' pointless gamblings and ramblings and the awakening of Dolly Longestaffe's surprising commercial astuteness are delightful because they are both stereotypes, and yet both avoid cliche because they are so accurately drawn. Trollop's great gift is to be able to follow the vaccilations of the human mind - and in this book the indecision of Mrs Hurtle and Paul Montague is capivating, as they wonder whether to abandon or hold on to one another. At one moment she longs to destroy him, at another she is determined to save him; he cannot bring himself to leave her, yet knows he must. The listener never knows which way they will turn.
The most remarkable feature of Timothy's West's performance is his chamaeleon ability to adapt to the voices of the characters; yet he does more than this, because he never falls into parody (which would be so easy to do with a character like Ruby Ruggles) and always maintains a firm grasp on the narrative - the listener always knows he is telling a story rather than acting a play. Added to this he has a command of the grammar, which can be fairly complex, and is able to throw away lines with such dexterity that the listener can pick them up, understand and digest them, barely pausing for breath before moving on to the next sentence.
Since it would require 32 hours, 19 minutes and 33 seconds of spare time I am not sure under what circumstances this would be possible.
Timothy West's mastery of the sense of the Victorian grammar is remarkable: there seems to be hardly a sentence that he does not fully understand - that may sound like an obvious requirement for any reader of a book, but with sentences of such length, dotted with clauses and sub-clauses, and the sheer expanse of the novel, I am amazed at his abilty to hold the listener in the last few minutes of the book as well as he does in the opening chapters.
"There are not enough superlatives"
What to say - there are just not enough superlatives. This is Trollope at his best. It's a tiny bit slow at the start but once you get underway it's brilliant in every way. The narration is wonderful (as always from Timothy West) the story in very Trollopian but focuses on the role of women and the attitudes both to the Jewish community and other foreign minorities. Most of the characters as in all Trollope's novels are multi faceted. The story tells of one family and associated friends and connections who become embroiled in what must then have seemed very modern shenanigans in the City. Trollope is sympathetic to almost all of the characters to some degree and we follow the loves and desires of a variety of characters. But what is really interesting is how Trollope within the story makes a very clear criticism of the treatment of women in Victorian society. Of course Timothy West does all the voices very well and by his masterly performance he brings all the people to life so that we empathise with them even if they are scoundrels. Trollope fans (and fans of Victorian literature in general) do not miss this one!
This book is full of such nasty people, and yet every now and then Trollope can make you feel sympathy for the worst of them. I just love his all too believable characters.
"Well worth it"
I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I listened to Barchester Chronicles on radio 4 but wasn't particularly impressed. To be honest I got it because it was a long book, got lots of good reviews, and so would hopefully see me through many hours of menial work. Its one of those "one ought to have read but probably never will" books like War and Peace. It is very dark (Trollope was clearly not particulary enamoured of his fellow man) but also has plenty of very dry humour in it and happy endings all round (sort of like Dickens). While societal rules have clearly changed since this was written (thank heavens) his characterisations/caricatures it still feel fresh and relevant. Definitely recommend it.
"Marvellous Timothy West"
I could not stop listening to this. It is a grand sweep of a novel with serious, and topical themes about money and gullibility, but also about love and betrayal. At times it is so funny - largely because of Tinothy West`s deep understanding of the story and the characters. He can convince you that you are listening to a whole gallery of people - I loved his dim, idle young swells. The only thing that will delay my next purchase of TW reading anything is the addictive quality of this last read. I am retired and fell asleep with it and flicked it on as soon as I woke up.
"A Victorian Masterpiece"
Whilst Anthony Trollope will be forever remembered as the author of the excellent Chronicles of Barchester, one of his greatest novels is "The Way we Live Now". A world of characters drawn from London and Suffolk driven by honour, cupidity, vanity and passion inter-react with each other often to their mutual disadvantage. All this is related by a trusted guide in Timothy West who by subtle means points the finer details of each character with a degree of sympathy that even the worst sinner is not without some redemptive qualities.
A fine book very well told and strongly recommended
This is a Fantastic novel, Timothy West is a one man master class in narration. Highly recommended.
"Superb reading by Timothy West"
A book from 1873 which deals with themes of relevance to the way we live in 2015. Love and marriage. Corruption and fraud in the world of finance. Snobbery and prejudice. The place of women in society. Very elegant language. Very long book. Too long. Brought to life and made accessible by brilliant reading byTimothy West.
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