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Film adaptations: The Way We Live Now

Lately I’ve been watching the 2001 BBC version of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, a four-part miniseries. The BBC does wonderful adaptations of great novels, and I’m glad to see that they decided to make one of this novel.

David Suchet, of Poirot fame, plays the greedy, grotesque, nouveaux riche Auguste Melmotte, a Frenchman who buys (but doesn’t pay for) a disgustingly over-the-top, Versailles-ish home in London, and dreams of being the most important man in England, even as his fortunes decline after a disastrous dinner with the Chinese emperor. His whiney daughter Marie (played by Shirley Henderson, who you might remember as Shazzer in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies) falls head-over-heels in love with gambling-addicted society rake Lord Felix Carbury (Matthew MacFayden), who only wants to marry her for her money so that he may continue his dissolute lifestyle. Then there’s Lord Felix’s sister, Hetta, who falls in love with Paul Montague, an engineer who dreams of building a railroad from California to Mexico, using the financial backing of Mr. Melmotte.

Trollope’s book is a satire of society in the 1870s as society became increasingly wealthy. None of the characters, apart from Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury, are particularly likeable (or show any common sense), but Trollope and Andrew Davies (who wrote the screenplay for the miniseries) don’t intend them to be that way. In fact, almost everyone is over-the-top, ridiculously attached to money.

I haven’t read the book, but I’m told the miniseries, composed of four parts of 73-minutes apiece, stays true to it for the most part (excepting the artistic license that screenwriters usually take). I’ve now added The Way We Live Now to my TBR.


Teddy Rose said…
This sounds like a really good mini series. I do hope PBS's Masterpiece Theater picks it up!
Matt said…
Trollope is one of my much revisited authors, like Somerset Maugham. I have read The Way We Live Now and Eustace Diamond. I need to look for this mini series. Thanks for the review! :)
Anonymous said…
I loved this mini series. I picked it up on impulse from the library, though I've yet to read anything by Trollope.

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