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The Way We Live Now
updated 11.5.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I missed the series The Way We Live Now adapted from Anthony Trollope's novel the first time around but caught it on the rebroadcast. I was furious about Baker's inaccurate statements, which he made on several occasions about the Prime Minister of England Disraeli, being Jewish. This is just a lie. While Disraeli was of Jewish origin he was an outwardly pious Church of England Christian. He was not a Jew. This is especially galling since it wasn't until the period depicted in the show that Parliament abolished the requirement that their members take their oaths as "Christians" and the first Jewish MP -- a Rothschild -- was allowed to take his seat.

Charles Andelman
Medford, MA

His family was Jewish and, although raised as an Anglican after his baptism in 1817, Disraeli continued to identify himself as Jewish. The following excerpt is taken from

    ... In 1835 Disraeli and Daniel O'Connell quarreled publicly over press reports that O'Connell had been called a 'traitor and incendiary' by Disraeli. The pair were to fight a duel but the police intervened and Disraeli was bound over to keep the peace. This was the first of their confrontations. In a heated debate in parliament, O'Connell referred to Disraeli's Jewish ancestry in disparaging terms to which Disraeli responded:

      Yes, I am a Jew and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

It was in 1866 that the House of Commons admitted Lionel de Rothschild, the first Jewish Member of Parliament.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I think Mrs. Hurtle should go back. Paul, obviously, has no more feelings for her. She is just hurting herself staying there, practically begging Paul to take her back. She is just setting herself up for more and more heartbreak. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe in the last episode she'll get Paul, but I highly doubt it. Look at Paul and Hetta, they are perfect!

Denyse Walters
Flint, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This book and movie were absolutely grand, I must say. I am really into old Victorian stories and like to read them. I really enjoyed it and it opened a new door for me. While I continue reading and learning about people and their lives I often wonder if our lives will ever be published in a book for reading long after we are gone. It puzzles me so. Anthony Trollope is my favorite author and I intend on reading all of his work.

Alexandria Brudente

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
We enjoyed The Way We Live Now very much, as it is so much better than 90% of what is on network television, but feel compelled to criticize a little. The story felt incomplete, characters not developed, things not explained (what happened to Melmott's first wife, what was the American woman's story, and there were other huge holes in the story. The acting was superb, but we really felt it could have been much better developed as a story. (Too much editing, too many story lines? I'm not sure). But thank you for keeping Masterpiece Theater coming to us, anyway.

Rhonda Lawrence
Magalia, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Way We Live Now provided one of the finest and most frightening looks at humanity. Above all, the series was timely, which translates as needed. The costumes and scenery were dated, but the tale of consumption and greed was not. Perhaps those most needing to see the "message" would not even recognize themselves. Even I saw bits and pieces of myself. The healing continues. Thanks.

Don Zook-Slagel
Waldoboro, ME

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm quite surprised that Hetta and Paul should end up together. I mean, as to their characters, they are both honest and idealistic. But really, what is their relationship based on? Love at first sight really just doesn't tell you much about how these two are made for each other. Just because they're both young doesn't mean they should fall for each other. One could easily imagine Hetta realizing that she loves not Paul but Roger.

Michelle King
Burnaby, British Columbia

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Way We Live Now is fabulous. I can't wait for the next episode.

Kathryn Tollas
St. Joseph, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I must be brief which is hard for me to do. Masterpiece Theatre is just the best, and I'm so glad I was at the bookstore on April 1st, because I walked past Trollope and remembered that MPT was airing The Way We Live Now that night. It was splendid and I'm looking forward to every Monday night this month.

I'm really intrigued by the level-headed and sensible Hetta Carbury, but her brother Felix just irritates me. I'm going to sympathize with Marie when this cad breaks her heart. Also intriguing is Paul Montague; he seems like the good apple amongst the bad. I'm hoping he and Hetta find their way to one another. And is that Winifred scary! I love the accent. I found myself sympathizing with Augustus Melmotte; snotty Georgiana is interesting as well. (She reminds me of Rosamond Lydgate in Middlemarch -- my current read). The Way We Live Now is wonderful and it reminds me so much of Wall Street and Republicans. I am fanatic about Henry James and I am also currently reading The Bostonian.

Benjamin Matlock
Fort Worth, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
We had an hour to kill while waiting for our latest HBO favorite. We happened onto The Way We Live Now and never made it back to HBO. The production is fantastic; the casting, absolutely terrific; and the pace, sizzling. We'll be back for the next three installments, HBO be damned. How could we have forgotten how great PBS and Masterpiece Theatre can be?

Andrew Shaffer
Port Washington, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Perhaps I should wait until I actually see the first episode tonight, but I wanted to say thank you for doing this book. I am a huge, huge Trollope fan and have read nearly all his books, the Barchester and Palliser series being the best, in my opinion. But I have read The Way We Live Now several times, and I think it is his best book outside his two main series. I can't wait to see it, and I thank ExxonMobil for bringing this particular book to the television screen.

Leslie Hoffman
Winnipeg, MB

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