Liane's Reviews > The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
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's review
Mar 17, 2010

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Read in March, 2010

Read this one for book club. ....Perhaps Trollope self-identifies with his initial main character, Lady Carbury, who writes for a living rather than for art. The 100-odd chapters were published bit-by-bit, as a serial. Maybe this was profitable (maybe more so because it meant not hiring an editor?). In the very long space between a slow start and a rushed finish, important characters got sidelined and plot twists evaporated.

I think Trollope was better than this book (although Amazon tells me it's considered his best). When he got around to caring about a character, he could bring that person to life in half a page with a searingly provocative internal monologue. Unfortunately, either he didn't then know what to do with his most interesting characters or there was no realistic happy ending he could give to them within the contraints of Victorian England. (except to send them off the less-constrained America)

The book is supposedly about greed and social decay. However, the two characters whom I felt most exemplified "duty" and "honor" because they put the happiness of the person they loved before their own happiness - these two end up alone and miserable. These two characters seemed set up to meet, argue, and fall in love: both were both made miserable by the same person, wanted to spend their golden years in the country, were the book's biggest personalities, had terrible opinions of one-another despite having the same best friends, and kept criss-crossing in location and plotline. They were a match meant to be! Yet they simply recede into the wings, while everyone else - down to the last widow and the priest two towns over - gets a wedding in the end. It was a very unsatisfying ending to a very long book.

On the other hand, Trollope's descriptions and dialogue for the rich young cads of the Beargarden social club were worth the 770 page price of admission.

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