The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope****

13 June 2022 | ,

Reading dates: August 24 2021 – 12 June 2022

For a long time, Neil and I have read allowed to each other before going to sleep. We have read The Iliad, The Odyssey, Little Dorrit, Mansfield Park, A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Fiesta and many others. Basically, anything serialised works so well for length, dramatist and accents. We tend to go for large English novels that we resist reading alone, or foreign ones we cannot read in the original language. Neil chose The Way We live Now because Trollope was a favourite of his favourite Martin Amis.

It was perfect to read aloud: varying and intersecting storylines, diverse settings in the city and the country, a mix of social classes and intrigues around love and money. Basically, this novel has all the best ingredients.

In families such as his, it is generally understood that matters shall be put right by an heiress. It has become an institution, like progenitor, and is almost as serviceable for maintaining the proper order of  things. Rank squanders money; trade makes it; — and the trade purchases rank by re-gilding its splendour.

It is well treated and exciting. I won’t spoil it but the narrative turns around a single event which, when it happens, all resolves narratively. That is, with the telling of the story even of not with the story itself. I found that a little disappointing because although the event is significant, holding it like the turning point and then wrapping everything up in haste left me a sour taste in the mouth. The wrapping up, too, is like at the end of TV reality shows when they say what the contestants are doing now … But it was enjoyable and Neil’s Ruby Ruggles and John Crumb’s impression (a lot nicer to say ‘you know nothing John Crumb with a Yorkshire accent, instead of Games of Thrones’s Jon Snow) was the best. It is so nice to go to sleep with a smile every night.

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