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The Way We Live Now

By: Anthony Trollope
Narrated by: Timothy West
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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 listeners say about The Way We Live Now

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic! Fantastic!

Timothy West and Trollope is the best combination I know of, I was dismissive of audiobooks until the delight of hearing unabridged Trollope read by this most intelligent of interpreters came my way - all of his readings of Trollope are utterly exquisite and the clever perceptions of the author are conveyed to the listener with exactly the right nuances. Please Mr West, if you ever read this review, have my thanks and pleas to continue your sensitive portrayals of the entire Trollope novels. You are a national treasure - just as these undervalued books are.

94 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A book for the 21st Century

I am very fond of Trollope's works but hadn't read "The Way We Live Now" before purchasing this audiobook. It has been so difficult to switch it off and I have been held captive throughout. I know the book has its detractors but I found it full of wisdom and compassion. It is not just of historical interest but says a lot about how we live now in the 21st century. The mistakes in the original text have been retained but it's quite fun to spot them as the reading goes on. Timothy West is masterful as always and does full justice to a wonderful novel.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Timothy West Is Just Fantastic

I would never have read a hard copy of this book. I chose it because of the reviews on Audible. They were not wrong. Great story of genteel 'ruthless people' brought alive by brilliant narration. Funny and touching. The best I have downloaded so far.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A dark but absorbing novel

Although I have read a good deal of Trollope's work this novel was unfamiliar to me, but has proved to be a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read.The author unsparingly depicts a dark social scene with many deeply flawed characters caught up in their various pursuits of wealth.The reader becomes anxious to discover how the inevitable downfall of Melmotte and his cronys will come. The characterisation here is wonderful and I have particularly enjoyed Trollope's portrayal of the female characters Mrs Hurtle and Marie Melmotte as well as the heroine Hetta Carbury.Once again Timothy West gives a superlative reading. I cannot recommend this too highly.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Nothing changes!

This book was recommended to me as an interesting reflection of the current financial situation, despite being set in 1873. And it certainly is, showing the power that society gives to those who are thought to be wealthy, without troubling to look too deeply behind the scenes. Beautifully read by Timothy West, the story is easy to follow despite the length of the book and of the cast list! Recommended if you enjoy Victorian literature and even more so if you have a rather dry sense of humour.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My First Trollope Novel but Not My Last

This was quite simply brilliant in every possible way and a fantastic introduction to Trollope's writings for a 'first-timer' like me. Timothy West does the most superlative job as the narrator and I can't imagine anyone else who could do such justice to this wonderfully rich and colourful novel. I now have my eye firmly set on more of Anthony Trollope's novels and fortunately there are loads of them, but I can't imagine any of them being more engaging or thoroughly entertaining than this.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Better than TV

Trollope has not been translated to my native tongua (Finnish) so I got to know this great novel through the BBC TV adaptation with David Suchet as the star. The adaptation took rather many liberties in polarising the issues and drama. The novel is superior to the screenplay, more nuances and verisimilitude.



Timothy West is even to me well-known actor with genuine wit. He omits the often annoying strong impersonations ie he does not try to speak high for females or anything like that. Still, he paces the characters very well and lives out their psychology engagingly. He has a most plesant voice and diction.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

it was great

I really enjoyed this book. Because of its lenght, I did fear that it would be just a very long drawn out, and perhaps rather dull 19th century novel, but not at all. Its still fresh. So well paced that each hour is enjoyable with no need to rush onward. Beautiful writing.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Indeed

Indeed, yes it is the way we live now, the way we lived when Trollope wrote it and the way we lived before that point. A wonderfully absorbing novel populated by vivid characterisation brought to life by West's masterful reading. Even when he takes the role of young women the listener is convinced he hears the girl and not West. Utterly splendid.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining

Timothy West reads this extremely well, as I would have expected. The various voices are well-characterised and clear.

It's a very long novel but Trollope's writing is so entertaining that it doesn't drag. It could have done because he was, to my mind, spinning it out just a bit but my interest never flagged. Trollope does tend to deal in this book with one story line for long stretches and then retrace his steps to go back to what was happening a few weeks before to other characters so he has to do a bit of a recap every now and then.

It's very witty in places and West brings out Trollope's wry humour at the expense of some of his characters well. Very few escape his wit.

There are some splendidly vile characters here notably Melmotte (who only just stays the right side of pantomime villain) and Sir Felix Carbury who is a hopeless case. There only seem to be three really good people amongst the main characters, Hetta Carbury, Roger Carbury and Marie Melmotte and I must admit Marie is for me the real heroine of the piece. I was cheering for her from quite early on. I also have a soft spot for Mrs Hurtle who is a rather modern American lady with a surprising moral code.

It's a good listen.



10 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Laurene
  • 05-06-10

Finally!

I've listened to all of Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire on audiobook (I recommend the Simon Vance-narrated versions), and I've been longing to read his most famous novel this way, too. However, for the longest time Audible only had a version narrated by the awful Flo Gibson, who sounds like she's 90 years old. So hooray for this new narration by Timothy West of one of Trollope's fabulously entertaining and relevant masterpiece! I was spellbound. Considering that one of the main plot elements is the rise and fall of a Bernard Madoff-style pyramid stock scheme, some of this novel rings painfully true. But there's also love, money, marriage and literary gossip -- something for everyone. Bravo to Audible for finally getting a decent version of this great book.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nardia
  • 03-03-10

Long, but well worth it.

I have to admit to buying this audiobook solely for the reason that I wanted an author I'd never read before, and a story that would last a while. At 32 hours it did that, BUT, I really enjoyed it. It took a few chapters to get into the scenery as there was a plethora of character's names to remember, but Timothy West convinced me that there was treasure to come. He does an awesome job with the accents and different voices for each character. It really seemed like a a full cast performing a perfectly timed dialogue. As for the storyline, I'll leave that to the publisher's description because my review would go way over the 2000 letters allowed. Put it this way, - hearing this book made me look up and watch the entire new BBC film version on youTube at 10 min intervals because the DVD was unavailable in my area. I look forward to more Anthony Trollope, and definately more Timothy West.

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Victor
  • 04-02-11

For My Money, Better than Dickens

I bought this book because I had been listening to Victorian literature, familiarizing myself with some works that I had neglected earlier in my life, and the reviews were so positive I decided to give The Way We Live Now a try. I had not even heard of Anthony Trollope until now. To say that I am pleasantly surprised would be a terrible understatement. Trollope skewers the money and status-obsessed upper class of late 19th century London in a manner that surpasses Dickens or any other author I am familiar with from that time. He relentlessly exposes the neuroticism, betrayal, greed, jealousy and lack of authenticity that characterize humanity in general, but were especially salient in that highly constrained society.

Unlike Dickens, Trollope does not give the reader any syrupy and lovable characters. He exposes everyone as self-obsessed and challenges the reader to love them in spite of their flaws, and God help us, we do. We empathize with Trollope's rogues and victims because we see a bit of ourselves in them and appreciate the fact that that at bottom each of them is vulnerable.

Much has been said of Timothy West's narration. It is, as previously reviewed, pitch perfect in every way. I particularly liked his take on Mrs. Carberry and her insufferable whining. Also, the narrator's voice had just the right blend of intelligence, wit and irony. I can easily see how this work might be tepid in less skilled hands.

Highly recommend. It's more cynical than Dickens, but also more intelligent, and that is what gives it its tremendous satirical bite.

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Larry E. Litster
  • 12-02-10

Timothy West is marvelous

Anthony Trollope just possibly could not find a better reader for any of his wonderful books. Timothy West makes the stories come to life. He is wonderful.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • W.Denis
  • 20-02-10

The Best

It is said that this is the best of the author's books and I very much agree. It is also one of the best audiobook performances I have heard and even though Trollope's longest book,100 chapters,
it kept me into it all the way. After I started listening I remembered watching the film on PBS and imediately went to BBC and bought it.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jane Ng
  • 17-05-10

30 hours of enjoyment

I was a little hesistant about getting this book as it is so long! I wasn't sure that I had the patience to sit through it all, but I can now say, I've enjoyed every minute of it. Apart from the wonderful writing of Trollope, I must say that Timothy West did a marvellous job reading the tome. It wasn't reading, in fact. It was acting. I feel like I was listening to a very well-performed audio play.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven
  • 13-02-10

Excellent book, excellent reader.

What a great book this has been. The story is consistently interesting, with interesting characters who are well fleshed-out. Very Tolstoy-esque. The reader is also, fortunately, excellent. A very long book which I wish could have been longer!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adeliese Baumann
  • 19-12-13

Still the way we live now

As others have rightly said, Trollope may be better than Dickens. And if not better, then he certainly can give him a run for his money every time!

Both share a genius for choosing the perfect names, and both provide social commentary and satirical wit. Both stage-manage a breathtaking cast of characters, and provide unforgettable stories. But there are differences. For one thing, I find Trollope's female characters, while still Victorian, to be far more fully developed and interesting. At times one begins to feel that the women in Dickens are either angels or demons, with some close to caricatures. Not so with Trollope. And his wit is so dry and crisp that he doesn't lapse into the preaching tone into which Dickens sometimes falls.

One couldn't find a better illustration of Trollope's considerable talents than this book. It begins simply: Auguste Melmotte has lately come to London. If one is well-born, one certainly does not wish to know this man, but one cannot afford to ignore anyone this rich, nor the daughter who is his sole heir. The vultures begin to circle, to highly entertaining effect, and we meet dozens of characters whose lives will be affected by the parvenu.

We may not be corseted, nor driving four-in-hand in the park these days, but this is still the way we live 138 years later. Money "expects money," and those who do not have money scheme to get it, some legally, some not. And as ever, greed and social climbing are the very soul of modern satire.

For those who watched the wonderful BBC miniseries with David Suchet you may find the book to be even better. It ends in a far more interesting way, I think, with all the loose ends tied up, and the characters are fully developed over the long course of the reading. Timothy West is incredible at bringing the characters to life.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Merlin
  • 29-05-11

Trolllope's best

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 01-02-11

Excellent choice for any fan of Victorian dramas

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.

7 people found this helpful