In this world of bribes and vendettas, swindling and suicide, in which heiresses are won like gambling stakes, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury, a 43-year-old coquette, 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix, with the 'instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte, the colossal figure who dominates the book, a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'.
Augustus Melmotte is a fraudulent foreign financier who preys on dissolute nobility - using charm to tempt the weak into making foolish investments in his dubious schemes. Persuaded to put money into a notional plot to run a railroad from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the capricious gambler Felix Carbury soon becomes one of his victims. But as Melmotte climbs higher in society, his web of deceit - which also draws in characters as diverse as his own daughter Marie and Felix's mother, the pulp novelist Lady Carbury - begins to unravel. A radical exploration of the dangers associated with speculative capitalism, this is a fascinating satire about a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy.
Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London to a bankrupt barrister father and a mother who, as a well-known writer, supported the family. Trollope enjoyed considerable acclaim both as a novelist and as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. He published more than forty novels and many short stories that are regarded by some as among the greatest of nineteenth-century fiction.
"The Way We Live Now is the essence of Trollope. If he had written no other novel, it would have ensured his immortality."
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