Helen Kitson's Reviews > The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
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Jun 25, 12

bookshelves: 19c, fiction

At the heart of this novel is mysterious, charismatic Melmotte, the 'Great Financier'. His origins are unknown, his dealings felt (and, in time, known) to be shady to the point of illegality. The other central character is Felix Carbury, an unpleasant, idle young man who attempts to marry Melmotte's daughter, Marie, for her money. Melmotte, though, wants his only child to marry someone with a title.

Felix, his mother's treasure, loves no one. Marie loves him. No one loves Melmotte - he is considered vulgar, and he is universally unpleasant to everyone he knows - including his daughter, whom he beats when she disobeys him, and even goes so far as to forge her signature.

The novel revolves around money - the making of it, the losing of it, the marrying for it. Finally Melmotte over-reaches himself: having achieved one of his ambitions of being an MP, he is revealed for the swindler he is, and kills himself. His death is the making of Marie: she has her father's business acumen without his dishonesty. When she decides to marry the American, Fisker, it is on her terms. She is hard-headed but not bitter - sensible in her attitude to money, and to life, now that she's recovered from her infatuation with Felix. Felix, however, remains at the end of the book quite as awful as he was at the beginning, but at least he is packed out of the way in Germany, leaving his mother free to marry Mr Broune. Lady Carbury's and her daughter's marriages are the only genuine love matches in a book dominated by people whose morals have been corrupted by money. [Nov 2004]
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