Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope
Ta-da! I finally finished my Trollope! Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it immensely. But in this edition, it was 825 pages long. That's a long book. I've read Orley Farm, which is also long, and several other Trollopes that I have in multi-volume older editions. It says something for the book that it held my attention for so long.
As with most Trollopes I've read, Trollope weaves several stories around and together. It starts with Lady Carbury, an authoress of dubious quality. She supports her daughter, Hetta, and her son, Sir Felix Carbury. Although both are grown, they live at home. That's to be expected of unmarried Hetta, but Felix is a gambler, a womanizer, and a drunk. He spends his money and almost impoverishes his mother, who dotes on him because he's her beautiful son.
Roger Carbury, Lady Carbury's cousin, loves Hetta, but she won't have him. She loves and respects him but doesn't love him that way. She loves Paul Montague, although he's been engaged to an American woman, older than he and far too passionate. He breaks off the engagement and then meets Hetta and falls in love. There are repercussions and lost letters and misunderstanding.
Then there's Mr. Melmotte, a rich, rich man, and his wife and daughter, Marie. Is he rich? Or is it smoke and mirrors? Opinion is divided. But as people bow to his possible wealth, they accept him into their ranks and he becomes more arrogant. He's rude, they all admit that, and doesn't know how to act in polite society. Lady Carbury wants Felix to marry Marie for her money, but he's not eager. Marie, however, falls madly in love with him and plans their elopement. But country girl Ruby Ruggles, whom Felix courts for giggles and fun, loves him, too, and hopes he'll marry her.
I don't think there's any recapping a book like this. I could tell you about Ruby and John Crumb, about Mrs. Pipkin, about Paul Montague and Mrs. Hurtle, about the gambling debts, and how the club goes belly up and the young men have no place to go, about Lady Carbury and Mr. Broune. There's a lot about love, love lost, love mistaken, and there's a lot about business and who's skimming what from whom and who actually has any money.
The Way We Live Now is a lush book, one to get lost in, one with wonderful characters and stories.