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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

Trollope's highly regarded satire is about the dishonest and villainous financier, Augustus Melmotte, who captivates and buys his way into the corrupt aristocratic society of London, throwing it into turmoil.

Described by The Guardian as 'the darkest of Trollope's 47 novels' it is also the longest with gloriously rich subplots. Inspired by the financial scandals of the 1870s, the novel is a dramatization of how greed and dishonesty permeated life during that era.

The Way We Live Now has become recognised as Trollope's masterpiece and was featured at Number 22 in The Guardian's 100 best novels.

Narrator Biography

Timothy West is prolific in film, television, theatre, and audiobooks. He has narrated a number of Anthony Trollope's classic audiobooks, including the six Chronicles of Barsetshire and The Pallisers series. He has also narrated volumes of Simon Schama's A History of Britain and John Mortimer's Rumpole on Trial.

Timothy West's theatrical credits include King Lear, The Vote, Uncle Vanya, A Number, Quarter, and Coriolanus and his films include Ever After, Joan Of Arc, Endgame, Iris, and The Day of the Jackal. On television, Timothy has appeared in Broken Biscuits (BBC), Great Canal Journeys (across 3 Series), and the regular role of Stan Carter on EastEnders (BBC).

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A tale of financial skulduggery reminiscent of recent city scandals." (Daily Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • M. Reen
  • Battle Creek, MI
  • 12-01-12

Delicious, absorbing and companionable

Where does The Way We Live Now rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

At or near the top of best audible books so far

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Way We Live Now?

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.

What about Timothy West’s performance did you like?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Most delicious irony

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Way We Live Now

This is the first book I've read/listened to by Anthony Trollope. I was compelled by the reviews for this book to give it a try and I'm glad that I did. Although the book was published in 1875 the story rings true to "the way we live now" in a universal way that I suppose always will. I have never known a story with so many flawed characters and the trial and errors of these characters, though exasperating at times, are fasanating. I found myself annoyed and compelled all at the same time with these characters- the way I feel about a lot of the people I know and care about in my own life. This book, although slow at times (I dazed through some of the chapters) all in all is well worth the time I invested listening to it. Now on to the next Anthony Trollope novel!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Simply Supreme

Anthony Trollope tells an intelligent and engaging story about plausible characters and Timothy West is one of my all-time favorite readers.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good book

I really enjoyed this story. It was a good story and nice and long.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorite Trollope novels

I'm so glad I stuck with this novel -- a slow start, a lot of unsavory characters making foolish choices, and a narrator whose character voices weren't very distinct one to the next. But this story becomes quite profound on a number of themes: greed, women's rights (or lack of them), class and position in a changing society. Many of the characters struggle with social changes that are challenging the values they hold dear. The way they respond offers wonderful insights into human nature -- the reason I read novels!

Trollope is surprisingly sensitive to the plight of women of all classes in the late 1800s -- their lack of authority over their own lives, trapped by their fathers and brothers and would-be suitors in rigid expectations of behavior, in the pressure to marry well (in rank or in wealth, and hopefully both), but not to marry outside one's class. However, society's values are beginning to change and that makes it harder to know how to choose: it might be okay to stoop to marry someone in business (if they're wealthy) but still not okay to marry a Jew unless your rank is so high you can ignore public censure. Money now opens a lot of doors and breaks down many cultural barriers. However, if a woman's reputation is tarnished (usually undeserved), her chances at a good marriage are ruined forever. At first, Trollope makes us believe that Mrs. Hurtle is someone to scorn, but she becomes someone to admire and finally to pity. I think I liked her best of all, but then she was a plain-speaking American woman attempting to take control of her own fate. Overall, the female characters were the most interesting and most fully-realized. And few of Trollope's characters escape his condemnation of greed and the financial scandals of the day, the most interesting, of course, being "the great financier" Augustus Melmotte. There are Melmottes in every age, and Trollope's look into his soul is brilliant.

Dive into Trollope's world and enjoy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bergljot
  • Mosfellsbaer, Iceland
  • 07-08-14

Good value!

Perhaps not one of Trollope's best but still more interesting than "The Prime minister" which was the one I took before and actually gave up on half way through.
This one has entertaining side stories and Timothy West's reading is excellent as always.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah
  • AUSTIN, TX, United States
  • 12-31-11

Pure pleasure

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is as close to pure enjoyment as literature gets. On the usual literary criteria the book is just short of the highest peak -- beautifully written, insightful but not transformative. But never have I had so much plain damn fun with a book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Way We Live Now?

It's unnerving how little the basic psychology of financial shenanigans have changed over 150 years.

What does Timothy West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Timothy West is everything a narrator can be -- interpretive but never intrusive. And an excellent job with both women's voices and American accents

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Trollope's world

The Way We Live Now is an excellent introduction to the writings of Trollope. It's long, but never boring, and the characters are well-developed.

Some might call Anthony Trollope the male equivalent of Jane Austen and I can see why. But to me his stories had such a different flavor. I liked that not everything always comes out perfectly in his endings. I also liked that some of the books got into the workings of Parliament as it was then. He is very good at portraying his female characters, many of whom are very feisty and colorful.

I started with this stand alone book, became utterly fascinated, then listened to all the Barsetshire Chronicles, followed by all the Palliser series. I have spent the last couple of months in Trollope's world and hated to leave it. There are some other novels left, but I loved each of the two series and having familiar characters come in and out of the various books. Even more so than Austen I became so frustrated with problems caused by the lack of communication (due to cultural restraints of the time) that I wanted to grab the particular character out of the book and shake some sense into them.

And what can I say of Timothy West? I love Simon Vance, but after hearing the samples I went with the West narrations and am so glad I did. He was pitch perfect and his accents were marvelous. He was a large part of how much I enjoyed this entire journey. I became so absorbed into this world that I am not at all sure what to read now.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Brentwood, TN, United States
  • 03-10-11

Jolly good, old chap! Pity it had to end!

Wonderful book! Loved the colorful cast of deeply drawn memorable characters. Trollope shows us the effects of living under the emotional and class constraints of English society in the 1870's in a most enjoyable way. This book transported me into their world and let me peek into what they thought and how they felt and why. Although there were quite a few characters to follow, I really didn't mind at all. The droll and witty writing caused me quite a few chuckles along the way. I hated to see it end! Timothy West's narration was masterful and thoroughly entertaining. This was my first encounter with Trollope and West and, I dare say, certainly not my last!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Birgit
  • 05-24-12

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Irene
  • 04-29-12

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Laurence
  • 04-05-12

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 04-01-12

Briliant

This is a Fantastic novel, Timothy West is a one man master class in narration. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • 01-06-18

The way we live now too - 150 years on.

As always, Timothy West brings vibrant life to Trollope. I am immensely grateful. We see ourselves with all our faults and kindnesses in this story set in the 1870s. Here are social climbers, bankers, merchants and aristocrats laid bare - but also gentle and affectionate people trying to do the best they can. Money and power go hand in hand and can be as destructive and terrible then as now. But there are no sermons within a text that entertains as much as it warns us of our failings.
The narration is perfect.

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  • Stevie
  • 11-30-17

An exceptionally entertaining audiobook.

I first heard of this book in a non-fiction book about the 2008 financial crash and resolved that at some point I would read it or listen to it. But having looked it up I was put off by it's size. However I shouldn't have been so discouraged because to my surprise it has turned out to be one of the most entertaining audiobooks I have listened to. I found it to be frequently laugh-out-loud funny and I become so engrossed in the story that I changed my personal habits and duties to enable more listening time. The narration is excellent with the wide range of accents of the various characters so masterfully and convincingly handled I am in awe of the narrator's skills. A marvellous and at times hilarious story brilliantly told. I am sad I have finished it.

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  • Lucy
  • 10-07-17

wonderfully read

I loved the book but loved Timothy West's portrayal of the characters and the different voices.

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  • Android
  • 09-16-17

Totally satisying

Trollope is the master satirist and delivers a good humoured but scathing observation on the social scene of the late 19th century

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  • Donal O'Hehir
  • 07-29-17

Wonderful book, gorgeous performance

Where does The Way We Live Now rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top for content, right at the top for performance

What other book might you compare The Way We Live Now to, and why?

Anna Karenina or War and Peace - complex human stories told in a immensely captivating way without once losing you

What does Timothy West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

This is the beautiful surprise of this edition. Timothy West's performance is stunning - he's not just reading it, he's performing it - complete fwith accents, verbal tics and deep, deep drama. Mind-blowingly good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Didn't want it to end - but it's 32 hours long, so no!

Any additional comments?

Buy it

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  • helen
  • 04-04-17

Wonderful

What made the experience of listening to The Way We Live Now the most enjoyable?

The Story was not rushed, one had time to absorb the era and characters.

What did you like best about this story?

Mrs Hurdle. I felt an empathy with her. She was kind but life was not kind to her.

What does Timothy West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

As in any audio book, many of the narrators are actors. Therefore they bring the story to a life that just cannot be done in reading to one's self alone.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A story of Greed, Unrequited Love, and Lies.

Any additional comments?

I would have liked Sir Felix Carver get more of a downfall.