Adam Bede
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Adam Bede

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  12,990 ratings  ·  430 reviews
Hailed for its sympathetic and accurate rendering of nineteenth-century English pastoral life, Adam Bede was George Eliot's first full-length novel and a bestseller from the moment of publication. Eliot herself called it "a country story - full of the breath of cows and scent of hay." Adam Bede is an earnest and virtuous carpenter who is betrayed by his love, Hetty Sorrel,...more
Paperback, Modern Library Classics Paperback Edition, 624 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1859)
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
Victorian novels
35th out of 185 books — 275 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Goodreads Top 100 Literary Novels of All Time
81st out of 100 books — 1,004 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
Skylar Burris
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
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...more
Sep 14, 2008 Myla rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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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...more
Karl H.
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
☽ 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 tran...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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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
A great book about love and forgiveness. I was reading on a cruise ship with dozens of people around and I still cried toward the end (if I'd been alone in my room, I would have been SOBBING). It was so heart-wrenching and I found myself feeling sympathy and pity for characters I previously didn't care for. I love how Adam truly learned the meaning of forgiveness. My only complaint is that I wish Seth's fate had been different. I really liked his character.

"It's no use meeting to say more hard w...more
May 13, 2012 Furqan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
I savored the words, sentences, scenes, thoughts, and personalities of this book. I was transported. This book will be added to those that I read and re-read and re-read.... George Eliot is sublime. I wanted to memorize whole sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. So much to think on and to internalize. What a treasure this book is!

Adam Bede is a workman in a small parish in north England. There are so many characters this book could have been named after. It is written such that they all seemed t...more
It's rare that I'll dislike a book, but... I just didn't like this one. I won't deny that Eliot is a great writer and I loved a lot of her prose, especially the detailed descriptions ( other times, it was just boring). I didn't see a plot in the works until halfway through the book, and then it just went downhill after the climax. I thought that despite her attempts to illustrate reality, some characters like Dinah and Seth were just...not realistic at all.

Overall, it was just pai...more
Lisa James
Eliot's a good writer, but I always have a tough time with the archaic writing. The storyline is interesting, it takes place in the early days of the Methodist movement, & surrounds a pair of brothers. Adam is the one the story revolves around, obviously. He's a carpenter/woodworker, & he's long suffering. His father used to be a good man, & a talented carpenter himself, till he became an alcoholic. Eventually, inevitably, & sadly for the family, meets an accidental death by drow...more
Jennifer D
George Eliot published Adam Bede, her first novel, in 1859 to great acclaim. This richly detailed novel tells the story of Adam, a carpenter, and his love for Hetty Sorrel, a vain young woman who falls in love with the local gentleman, Captain Arthur Donnithorne. Using this love triangle as her foundation, Eliot painstakingly illustrates the intricacies of rural life at the turn of the eighteenth century.

The characters in George Eliot’s Adam Bede exist along a continuum of human weakness. From H...more
Megan Larson
4.5 stars. Why are there not half stars?
George Eliot won me with Middlemarch. She kept me with Adam Bede. The full five stars were within its grasp, if it weren't for a couple of chapters where the author pushed the patience of even this lover of the pastoral pace. I probably didn't need the background of all of the Poysers' servants, who make no other appearance in the novel. But I've gotten a little better at knowing when to skim. Isn't reading delicious?
The tale itself is about virtue and co...more
This is a novel that may require a good deal of patience from the modern reader, but it is well worth the effort. On its surface, it is basic Victorian melodrama (at least, written in the Victorian age - 1859 - but the action takes place between 1799 and 1807), complete with romance, jealousy, suspense, passion, and even a murder trial. I very much enjoyed Eliot's famous gift for leisurely and lyrical prose, her lovingly detailed descriptions of pastoral England, and the way she recreates the un...more
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Ben Babcock
So far I’ve been reading George Eliot’s work in a reverse-chronological order. For my third experience I’ve chosen Adam Bede, her first novel. I didn’t realize this until I read the introduction after finishing the book. In hindsight, I can see how her style is less polished than her later works; however, at the time, I was captivated by all the hallmarks of Eliot’s writing that make her my favourite Victorian novelist.

The plot of Adam Bede really is one of the simplest of all time (though it ta...more
dead letter office
Mar 27, 2008 dead letter office rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: boring carpenters
george eliot's ideal man seems to be a carpenter who would have been the teacher's pet had he gone to school. inordinately boring.

wallace stegner writes into his book angle of repose that george eliot's problem is that she hardly gets done creating her characters before she starts judging them, and i think this is the source of my boredom with adam bede. she seems to have created her idea of a perfect guy (simple, idealistic, masculine, loyal), and then spends the next 400 pages admiring him in...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
My first Eliot. Wow - she really had a way with a pen... Without being overy "flowery", she can paint a scene in a way that jumps to mind visually. For a voracious reader, I can be pretty bad at visualizing, so this always impresses me.

Compared to Austen, this is very straightforward, as opposed to humorous. Yet its definitely NOT without humor, rather it is the humor we all see in ordinary life. Also the distressing sorrow we see in ordinary life. And the warm sunshine of joy we find in life t...more
George Eliot's Adam Bede lives in the charming rustic countryside and adheres to a stoic version of the Puritan work ethic. His world is disrupted by both the classic temptation of Eros in the form of the too beautiful Hetty and the dissenting spiritual views of the Methodist preacher Dinah Morris.
The author controls the narrative and lectures the reader as the other characters, brother Seth, Arthur Donnithorne, the Poysers, and the Rector Irwine are intertwined in the the fates of young Hetty a...more
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.
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Is this a sad book? 2 10 Mar 06, 2014 06:28AM  
Who is responsible for Hetty's tragedy ? 4 19 Mar 06, 2014 06:14AM  
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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
More about George Eliot...
Middlemarch Silas Marner The Mill on the Floss Daniel Deronda Romola

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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?” 258 likes
“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” 121 likes
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