One excuse is that I've spent most of the last two months reading one book: The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope. I got interested in reading something by Trollope after reading Stanley Hauerwas' memoir, Hannah's Child, where he mentions being a Trollope fan. Since in my experience, professional theologians who still regularly read fiction are rare, I thought I'd try Trollope out. I'm not sure I quite realized what I was getting into (he's a Victorian novelist--that means long novels!), but I really enjoyed the book and am posting my review at the end of this post.
I'm also about to update my blog list to include two blogs I've decided need to be there:
- Shannon Hale's blog Squeetus
- The children's lit blog Secrets and Sharing Soda, by the friend of a library school friend
Ok, here's the review now (which I forgot to include the first time around--hooray for post-posting editing options!):
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Inspired to try out Anthony Trollope by Stanley Hauerwas (who describes himself as a big fan of Trollope in his memoir).
1/6/11 Have just gotten past the 400 page mark and am now sufficiently drawn into the story that I'm eager to read every new chapter, not just the ones that deal with my favorite characters.
1/18/11 Almost there....almost there...
1/23/11 Whew. The Way We Live Now definitely embodies the stereotype of the Victorian novel...it's LONG!! However, when I finished it's 824 pages, I felt like I had spent the time well and enjoyably.
As noted above, I had to get about half-way through before I could really enjoy the full story. I didn't know on starting, but was unsurprised to learn, that the book was published serially, so it makes sense that the story would follow a character for a few chapters, then skip to another character. Once half-way through, however, the different storylines started to weave together more and that made even those chapters that just followed Melmotte (the villain of the story) around interesting.
I liked that Trollope portrayed realistic characters who had plenty of faults--several of them more faults than virtues--but he still managed to make most of them sympathetic. Even Melmotte had some sympathetic moments, but I feel that he richly got what he deserved. I also feel that Trollope didn't cheat by letting characters have sudden changes of heart and character--he would describe their motivations and their feelings, and they stayed true to those.
Most of the characters got happy endings--even a few who didn't quite deserve them. Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury were the central romantic couple, John Crumb and Ruby Ruggles had a somewhat more exciting, yet less tortured happy ending, Roger Carbury did not get the ending he desired but rose to the occasion quite well--only Mrs. Hurtle's fate left me sad. I found the marriage of Georgiana Longstaffe to be too precipitous to be really interesting. Felix Carbury didn't quite get what he deserved (in my opinion, a swift kick in the pants), but was at least prevented from dishonoring any more young ladies or ruining his mother financially. Lady Carbury's happy ending was perhaps not deserved, but satisfying nonetheless. Since I'm a happy ending kind of girl, this is largely what made the novel enjoyable for me!
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