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Adam Bede

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  19,008 Ratings  ·  638 Reviews
The English Midlands at the turn of the eighteenth century is the setting for George Eliot's moving novels of three unworldly people trapped by unwise love. Adam Bede, a simple carpenter, loves too blindly; Hetty Sorrel, a coquettish beauty, loves too recklessly; and Arthur Donnithorn, a dashing squire, loves too carelessly. Betrayed by their innocence, vanity, and imprude ...more
Paperback, 598 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1859)
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Rwth Hunt I did like it when I listened to it, but other books have pushed in in front of it. I may never finish it, but there it is on my kindle ready when I…moreI did like it when I listened to it, but other books have pushed in in front of it. I may never finish it, but there it is on my kindle ready when I want to return to it. (less)

Community Reviews

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Oct 29, 2010 Beccie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this may be the most beautiful book I have ever read. I felt both uplifted and emotionally drained when I finished. The tragedy and the great beauty of George Eliot's writing! I didn't read this edition, mine was much older, but the introduction of my edition quoted Charles Dickens as saying that reading Adam Bede was an epoch in his life, and Alexandre Dumas called it the masterpiece of the century. I'm happy to agree with them. Most people say that Middlemarch is George Eliot's maste ...more
Apr 10, 2017 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up to 4

Because I was reading David Copperfield during some of the time I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare the characters (and situations) of one book to the other: for example, the extremes between the adorable Dora/Hetty and the angelic Agnes/Dinah. And though I know Eliot had reservations about Dickens’ works, I see how she extends -- into realism -- a character like David Copperfield’s Emily.

Also interesting to me is that an arguably sensational theme of Adam Bede is
Skylar Burris
Dec 23, 2007 Skylar Burris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Adam Bede is a story about love, self-deception, religious feeling, innocence, and experience. It would not be an unfit introduction to Eliot, though Middlemarch is by far her superior novel. I am awed by Eliot's psychological insight into human personality. Her characters are some of the most vivid in all of literary history, and her ability to penetrate to the very heart of human motivation is unrivaled. She presents her story with wit and subtle sarcasm. (Take, for instance, this tongue-in-ch ...more
Nov 04, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Eliot’s masterpiece is Middlemarch, but Adam Bede has always been my favorite Eliot novel. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because Bede was the first Eliot book I read. I doubt this, however, because the first Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice, but my favorite Austen book is Persuasion. I understand why Middlemarch is a masterpiece, yet I find myself agreeing with Dumas pere in considering Bede to be the “masterpiece of the century”.

I first read Bede after watching the firs
Aug 20, 2013 Issicratea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
Adam Bede (1859) was George Eliot’s first novel, preceded only by her short fiction collection, Scenes of Clerical Life. The novel was recognized as a masterpiece from the start. The Times review stated that “the author takes rank among the masters of the craft” and describes “him” as possessing “genius of the highest order.” Elizabeth Gaskell, with North and South already behind her, mournfully noted in a letter that “I have a feeling that it is not worth while trying to write when there are su ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ye-oldes, grande
It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it—if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness.
Adam Bede, George Eliot's first novel and second published work, is just as brilliant a novel as the
Aug 28, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Bede is a polished and delicately painted debut novel . George Eliot published Silas Marner and the Mill on the Floss in each of the next two years. How amazing! Adam Bede predates Hardy's Tess of D' Ubervilles by over 30 years and honestly, I found Eliot's novel more suspenseful and brutal. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The setting, 1798, bucolic England peopled with dozens of individuals from every walk of life. At first this town is like the Garden of Eden with meaningful employment for everyone. Adam, of course, is
Dov Zeller
I wrote a pretty long review comparing Eliot's Bede to Summer by Wharton, so if you want to see that, check out my Summer review. The books have a lot of similarities but also they are very different. Summer is much shorter, and focused on the female protagonist. Bede is long and Adam Bede is the central character, though we do get some chapters with the narration focused on Hetty Sorrel.

One thing I loved in Bede is the relationships between parents and guardians and their children...Bede has an
Nov 28, 2007 Myla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Myla by: Mel Bennett aka Daddy-O
I loved this book! It was just a mellow fun story to read nothing riviting me to my seat and then all of a sudden I was dying! I have never in my life been completely torn; I couldn't stop reading because I had to know what would happen at the same time I had to stop reading because I was afraid to see what would happen. Never in my life have I seriously considered flipping to the back of the book to see how it ends, and I am not a spoiler of plots. Not to be cliche but I laughed and cried and.. ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took my time with this book. First, it was to enjoy Eliot's near-cinematic writing style in the beginning of the novel as she laid out the world and characters of "Adam Bede". Then, I read slowly to slow down the arrival of the inevitable fall from paradise. But Eliot handled it beautifully complete with cliffhangers that saw me, at one dramatic chapter, drop the book, throw my arm over my eyes and gasp for breath. You'll know where when you read it. Please do, Adam Bede's world seems bucolic ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a lifelong George Eliot fan, so it's strange that I just never got to Adam Bede before now. I suppose I was afraid it would fall short of Eliot's masterpieces, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, or even Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner. Adam Bede is in fact an "early" book; one senses Eliot working toward her greatest powers. The pacing can be a bit slow at times; Eliot juggles fewer narrative threads than she does later in her career; and there is a slight sensationalism in the focus on the ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Oct 24, 2014 Mattia Ravasi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though not especially fast nor overly thrilling, Adam Bede is a beautiful insight into a crucial moment in British history - and into the human condition in general - all inserted in the frame of a beautiful, surprisingly entertaining story.
Adam Bede is similar to Tess of the D'Uberville's in it's basic premise; an innocent and unspecting maiden falls prey to the desires of a wealthy aristocrat thwarting the love and good intentions of a proud and honorble hero. Of course Adam Bede was written 32 years prior to Tess. Adam Bede is one of my favorite's of the great classic novels.
Mar 22, 2017 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2015 Myles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Bede was wonderful. It was lush and evocative of the late 18th century and intensely psychological in a way I wasn't expecting at all. In 19th century literature it is so easy to lose sight of how most people lived, spending so much time with the gentry and high-stakes players of the era, with "common people" being Dickens caricatures, however lovingly drawn, and background noise.

I have been holding an unfair grudge against George Eliot for all the wrong reasons. It's not her fault the prof
It may be heresy (why is it always heresy to dislike a "classic" when a book's status as a classic mainly stems from its age?), but I'm not particularly fond of George Eliot. Granted, I read her books when I was rather younger, but I found her tone too moralistic and prescriptive, and the political overtones too strident. Adam Bede is perhaps one of my least favourite of the books of hers that I have read. We have our overly prim, proper, and holier-than-thou protagonists, Adam Bede and Dinah Mo ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This starts very slowly. Even at 200 pages in I thought “My anticipation of the pleasure of reading this far out strips my actual pleasure of reading this.” For me, this may have been due in part to the large amount of religious talk and paragraphs of actual prayer. I’m sure this was thought quite normal and acceptable at the time of publication – and perhaps by many readers today – but it is not the sort of writing I embrace. In addition, Eliot thought it necessary to write the speech of her pe ...more
This is the story of Adam Bede, a carpenter who lives in the countryside and falls in love with Hetty Sorrel, a maid who lives with the Poysers, uncle and aunt of Adam.

In reality, the plot involves the love story among the four main characters: Adam, Hetty Sorrel, Arthur Donnithorne, a young squire who seduces Hetty, and Dinah Morris, Hetty's cousin and an itinerant Methodist preacher.

After have been seduced by Arthur, Hetty's life become a turmoil of tragic events.

The first movie based on this
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karl H.
Feb 09, 2013 Karl H. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading George Eliot’s Adam Bede, I found myself reminded of Norman Rockwell paintings, with their impeccable technique and saccharine kitschy everyday subjects of the not so distant past. Like a Norman Rockwell of the 19th century, Eliot smiles at most of her subjects and makes us long to return to the good old days, even if she pokes a bit of sly fun at their expense from time to time. But nostalgia is not a lens through which we see clearly, and this Norman Rockwell portrait of a community mi ...more
Jul 04, 2010 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely loved this novel. I am certain I will read this again and again throughout my lifetime.

The first three hundred pages (pre-Hetty's travails) were perfect; I was disappointed when the wonderfully center-less scope narrowed its focus on the events of Hetty's escape.

This novel really raised the bar for me w/r/t character development: even the most minor (and superficially unlikeable) of characters has an interior world as expansive and dynamic as any galaxy, full of prejudices, doubts, pr
Jun 06, 2016 Marilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My new favourite genre is classics and this did not disappoint. George Eliot has such a wonderful way with words, albeit a bit sad, I certainly loved the story.
" I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day, said Mr Irwine. No dust has settled on one's mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the ray of things." Page 214

On heritage, a masterful description see pg 84 ".....The father to whom we owe our best heritage- the mechanical instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony,
100% engaging. This is one of those books that you feel more human for having read.

What the plot may lack in scope, the writing makes up for tenfold with tender and true insights into pain, hope, vanity and prosaic life. It's a true, true, true book, that beats with an honest heart. You get to love the narrator in the very fact that the narrator is open about her love for the characters. this book is a treasure, in all its homely ruggedness and sometimes shocking, but inevitable events. It's not
Nov 26, 2008 Chelsea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This took me a long time to read, and it's a difficult book to read in 10 or 15 minute snatches. However, I gave it 5 stars because it was worth the time it took. I was really impressed with how Eliot created and presented these characters--she makes you relate with the "bad guys" and really respect the good guys and how they deal with their struggles. She's very wordy, but for the most part they're very wise and worth getting through.
Jul 24, 2009 Furqan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Eliot's fans, lovers of Victorian literature
As with pretty much all of Eliot’s novels, a little dose of patience wouldn’t go amiss, because in the end she does reward you for your perseverance. Adam Bede was Eliot’s first novel and was a huge success upon its publication. Although, it pales in comparison to her succeeding works, Adam Bede is still a damn good read; even if it slightly lacks the immaculate characterisation and masterly control she brings to Middlemarch (her masterpiece) and my favourite, The Mill on the Floss.


As with most
Moon Rose
"In the midst of life we are in death."
Figuratively speaking, it is true enough to say that we die a thousand deaths in a single lifetime. As we live this life that seems only to thrive in human anguish, it makes every bit of suffering the same face of death that seems always at hand at every moment of life as it makes its eternal presence known to us always in the now as if ready to inflict the swing of its mighty blow of an ax at all times to cut the very fiber of our existence, ready to tra
Feb 10, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once in a while it pays to go back and read a classic. They are called classics for a reason. With themes and characters that are evergreen, a classic is a book that continues to speak to readers over the course of decades, nay, even centuries. With the irresistible story lines of innocent, yet really bad judgement; devotion to work, family and community; unrequited love and privileged cads, Adam Bede also educates the reader in the finer themes of comparative religion, farming in the late eight ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Mickey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My love affair with George Eliot continues. Adam Bede was Eliot's first book, though it was written when she was almost forty years old.

From the beginning, Eliot had all the things that makes her so remarkable: her descriptions are so vivid and tangible, her characterization is absolutely the best I've ever read, her knowledge and understanding of human nature are uncanny.

One of my favorite characters is actually Arthur Dunnithorne. He is such a child who has dreams of being a great leader tha
Jun 08, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading George Eliot is like eating a particularly good piece of cheesecake. I want to read her slowly and savor each bite. This book begins slowly and progresses slowly, but in a way few authors could get away with. She engages the reader on a personal level and she maintains eye contact throughout. I found myself reading the book as if I were reading it out loud so as not to miss her poetry. I guess I could comment on the story itself, but that really isn't why I read George Eliot. I read her ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Adam Bede by George Eliot 3 28 Apr 22, 2015 06:20AM  
Is this a sad book? 2 18 Mar 06, 2014 06:28AM  
Who is responsible for Hetty's tragedy ? 4 37 Mar 06, 2014 06:14AM  
Is this a sad book? 3 20 Feb 24, 2014 08:02PM  
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In 1819, novelist George Eliot (nee Mary Ann Evans), was born at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father's, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent. Her first published work was a religious poe ...more
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“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” 436 likes
“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” 168 likes
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