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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,021 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
George Eliot’s Romola, writes Robert Kiely in his Introduction, embodies the author’s “wrestling with her own best theories of history and human nature as a creative experiment of the highest order.” Set in Florence in 1492, a time of great political and religious turmoil, Eliot’s novel blends vivid fictional characters with historical figures such as Savonarola, Machiavel ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published June 10th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1863)
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In a deep curve of the mountains lay a breadth of green land, curtained by gentle tree-shadowed slopes leaning towards the rocky heights. Up these slopes might be seen here and there, gleaming between the tree-tops, a pathway leading to a little irregular mass of building that seemed to have clambered in a hasty way up the mountain-side, and take a difficult stand there for the sake of showing the tall belfry as a sight of beauty to the scattered and clus
It is the 9th April, 1492. Lorenzo de'Medici died today, and a stranger has come to town. The town is Florence, and there is great upheaval in the market at the news of Lorenzo's death, and people talk of strange portents.

But who is this very handsome young man newly arrived? Why, his name is Tito and he has been shipwrecked. An amiable and erudite young man, fluent in Greek, he will soon make his mark on Florence.

Slowly Tito's character is unfurled as the novel progresses and his true nature i
Apr 11, 2016 Deea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deea by: Kalliope
Shelves: best-2015
Renaissance Florence. Ending of the 15th Century - beginning of the 16th. A space where people like Girolamo Savonarola, Niccolo Machiavelli and the Medicis are the everyday pawns of an ongoing and complicated reality. Politics handled with ability and shrewdness, religion used for political ends and social movements are displayed with great talent in the background, while in the first plan we witness together with the omniscient author the path of an individual to fame brought by corruption and ...more
Sep 24, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Eliot is arguably England’s best 19th Century novelist, and Romola, one of her less read and vastly underrated works, supports the argument. Set in Florence at the very end of the 15th Century, capturing the mood and ambiance of that time and location brilliantly, the novel traces the lives of a host of fascinating characters, the best known being Girolamo Savonarola, that charismatic historical figure, a monk who attempted to transform Florence into a theocracy and whose life ended in fl ...more
Anabelle Bernard Fournier
Feb 15, 2011 Anabelle Bernard Fournier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Victorian literature ethusiasts, historical fiction readers, George Eliot fans
Shelves: victorian-lit
I wrote my Master's thesis on this book, so I am aware of the long history of bad reviews for this quite revolutionary novel for George Eliot. The language is definitely difficult (contemporary reviewers complained of not being able to read it without a dictionary), but the rewards are definitely worth it. George Eliot believed that this was her best work, not because it was the best written or had the best story, but because it displayed her philosophy and her knowledge better than any other no ...more
Sep 24, 2011 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some day I'll start a list of History's Most Underrated Great Books, or History's Greatest Underrated Books, and start it off with this. Reading for book club and just finished it last night. After a brutal slog of a first 50 pages (GE wrote literature's worst overtures, except for "Daniel Deronda," which contains one of the best), it suddenly kicks in and becomes a page-turner. Edgar Allan Poe meets Verdi opera plot.

Lots of welcome parallels here for all 19c fans. The most engaging character,
Jul 27, 2010 Arthur rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking to read your first George Eliot, don’t start with Romola. In 1866, Henry James called it Eliot’s greatest novel to date (and that means greater than The Mill on the Floss, which opinion is goofy). “It is decidedly the most important,” he wrote of the novel, “--not the most entertaining nor the most readable, but the one in which the largest things are attempted and grasped.” James persevered in this opinion, calling it a “rare masterpiece” in 1873 and in 1876 ranking it above D ...more
Dec 29, 2015 Mickey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've heard that George Eliot considered this book to be her best. I can see where she gets that. I know that Romola is not considered to be a good book, but I think that Romola shows growth, particularly in explicit theme.

This book is filled with transformations, but most are so sudden that they are likely to be problematic for the modern reader. I think that most Victorian people's experience with transformations might be from religious quarters and are likely to be sudden and complete. In our
Dec 29, 2013 G.G. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's true, as other reviewers have noted, that at times Romola is a slog. (Is there a nineteenth-century novel that isn't?) Nonetheless, what really astounded me about this novel is Eliot's ambition for it. Not for her the advice Jane Austen gave her would-be novelist niece Cassandra: "3 or 4 families in a country village is the very thing to work on." No, Eliot set her work in late fifteenth-century Florence and depicted the struggle of the Florentine Republic to survive not only entrenched ari ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
AHH!!! I feel so guilty! I started reading Romola by George Eliot a few days ago and I hate it. I really, really hate it. And I don't think anyone else on earth hates it but me. From the little introduction I found in the book I read:

"Romola (1862–63) is a historical novel by George Eliot set in the fifteenth century, and is "a deep study of life in the city of Florence from an intellectual, artistic, religious, and social point of view". It first appeared in fourteen parts published in Cornhill
Jane Greensmith
Dec 08, 2012 Jane Greensmith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much as I would love to give this book 5 stars, the beginning is just too hard to read and Romola is just too saintly.

Plus, the coincidences! This type of thing is what gives Victorian lit such a bad rap. Really, George Eliot, really? You couldn't make the characters work a little bit before stumbling on each other?

It was an ambitious book, historical fiction about a complex time, and worth reading, especially if you want to know what made Maryann Evans tick!
Oct 08, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious G.E. Fans/italiophiles
Shelves: brit-lit
This is the only book from my beloved George that I had left to read, and it was definitely the most challenging. She accurately portrays Florence in the age of the Medici's, to the point that even people in her day had no idea what the hell she was talking about half the time, hence her copious, fastidious footnote section. This is part novel, part history lesson. It took me ForEVER to get through, but I enjoyed it. Don't think of it as a book--think of it as a hobby.
Dalia Fawzy
Aug 15, 2015 Dalia Fawzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
دورت على ريفيوهات بالعربي للرواية ملقيتش للاسف، تقريبا القارئ العربي بيكسل يعمل لها ريفيو ، و بكدا يبقا دا اول ريفيو عربي ل ”رومولا“

الرواية دي اول معرفة فعلية ليا بكتابات جورج إليوت .

الرواية بتدور احداثها في ايطاليا عصر النهضة ، في الفترة ما بين موت ”لورينزو دي ميدتشي“ في الفصل الاول و بتنتهي بإعدام ”سافونارولا“ في الفصل الاخير ، مروراً بحكم ”بييرو دي ميدتشي“ و غزو ”شارل الثامن“ ملك فرنسا لايطاليا.

اللي مهتم بفترة عصر النهضة و حكم الميدتشي او شاف افلام وثائقية عنهم عارف اد ايه الفترة دي كانت ثري
My second date with my new best friend George Eliot. I didn't love it like I loved The Mill on the Floss , which is fine. I'm not sure that I want to love all things that way.

I'm rounding up the rating here because though it was a much more difficult read, I have near as much awe for what she is capable of. The thing that I find in George Eliot, and in almost nothing else, is a telling of the truth that sounds like a magic, definitive lesson. Her statements are just and perfect. And in both bo
Sep 30, 2011 Care rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Let me first say that there is much to love here. Truly! The first fifty or so pages felt interminable, but once past that point the book becomes a veritable page turner.

Eliot crafts a fascinating, first-rate historical fiction plot based in Florence, Italy, from the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici (in 1492), through the time of Savonarola’s influence, and culminating in an epilogue placed in 1509. In the midst of this tumultuous social situation is placed our heroine, Romola. The daughter of a scho
Jan 24, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Romola" is probably not the most advisable introduction to the work of Marian Evans (to use her real name), but I confess that the historical novel is my literary weakness. Although I know that the historical novel is most frequently the mirror of the writer's world in period dress, like those old photographs in which the subjects stood behind cutouts that attempted to evoke a different time and place. And so Evans' Victorians descend upon the Florence of Fra Savonarola on his way from setting ...more
Katie Browning
Mar 12, 2015 Katie Browning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I have never head of Romola, after all of my British Lit studies, but I knew that if George Eliot wrote it, I would be all in. What a powerful book! I want to write a 20 page paper dissecting all of the different elements, but a short review will have to suffice with the time I have.

I thought the setting of the Italian Renaissance was fascinating. Eliot did her work and weaved in the elements of Savonarola and the connecting religious themes, social classes, and humanism along w
Georgiana 1792
La vera protagonista di questo romanzo è, in realtà, la città di Firenze durante il Rinascimento: la sua storia, tutti i suoi più illustri personaggi che vissero dalla fine del XV secolo all’inizio del XVI. Il romanzo si apre, infatti, il giorno della morte di Lorenzo de’ Medici — il 9 aprile 1492 — e si chiude con l’esecuzione di Fra’ Girolamo Savonarola, il 23 maggio 1498, sebbene nell’epilogo vediamo la sorte dei personaggi esattamente dieci anni dopo.

Anche il Savonarola si contende con i due
Apr 16, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-classics
There were large swathes of pages that seemed to make little sense but then, just when my eyes were crossing, I would be swept into the Florence of the 1490s with a huge sense of historical detail that rang true and believable.
Romola was just too good as a character - her subservience and service to all was overdone and made her difficult to love. Mixed feelings, really, about how I felt having dragged myself through the length and breadth of this book: delight that I had made it perhaps being
Oct 31, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazingly well written book. She did such a good job creating complex characters that were true to life. I realized after I read the book that many of her characters were actually real people so it proved to be quite the history lesson as well. The main characters were fictional by necessity, though. I was really impressed with a theme that she brought forth very thoroughly: that "the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell". Beca ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Zandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am perplexed by George Eliot's novel, which has, I think, the brilliantly drawn character of Tito, along with highly unsatisfactory character of Romola. Eliot has created a powerful portrait of a talented but weak man's descent into moral depravity: the best villain I have ever become acquainted with in a novel. I found this portrayal of how an attractive, winning man is corrupted by his own power fascinating, thrilling and (strangely) comforting. I am so glad to have read this book for the ex ...more
Laurel Hicks
George Eliot's historical novel of Florence in the late 1400's is well researched, rich in detail, and filled with quite believable historical and fictional characters. I enjoyed it and see in it the seeds of Middlemarch.
Jun 08, 2007 adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Romola marks a significant shift in George Eliot's career. At first glance, this shift appears radical. Whereas her first four works (Scenes of Clerical Life followed by the three early novels, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and Silas Marner) all document life in rural England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Romola takes place in late 15c. Italy. That is to say, while her early works can all be read in line with the project of realism she outlines in her early essay, "T ...more
Sep 28, 2015 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I some times wonder why I read books no one I know has heard of let alone wants to talk about. Those who really know me know that I like nothing better than talking about books. Since I lost my beloved father in law I don't think anyone even notices the books I read. That being said, George Eliot can be inaccesable, she did love her knowlege and vocabulary. It took me a long while to engage with this work. I usually read about 19th Century England and Europe. This is set in 15th century Florence ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Leif rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not Many
Nope: didn't like it one bit, but sat and read through almost 600 pages of historical setting while Eliot spun a flimsy, barely coherent plot over top of her beloved research. Stock characters became parodies - see Baldassarre or Romola - and decently fleshed out characters disappeared into the haze of Eliot's sympathy project - see Tito. Add to this the horrifically patronizing, and sublimely insulting portrayal of the beautiful woman Tessa, another one of Eliot's ongoing projects of demonifica ...more
Bryn Hammond
Tried twice and failed.

I'm one of the few who think Dickens' historical novel, Tale of Two Cities, lesser than those that take place in his own streets. This is George Eliot's single historical venture and I don't think she manages to be everything she is, in a past setting. She's distracted by the exotic. To be picturesque is enough. Romola is a similar kind of woman to Dorothea (although a more reluctant intellectual) but is no Dorothea, who came alive on page one. I can't stand another scene
Nov 12, 2015 Rdt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Renaissance Florence has to be one of the greatest places in the world to have lived. Yes, they had wars, persecutions, murder, treachery, looting, and the Black Death, but they also had in a town of 80,000 people some of the greatest bankers, artists, scholars, philosophers and statesmen that the world had ever known up to that point in history. George Eliot makes the most of this milieu, with fascinating portraits of witty, charming and beautiful people caught in the maelstrom of great events. ...more
ROMOLA. (1863). George Eliot. ***.
Although most critics view this novel as her best work, I found it a difficult read. The story is set in Renaissance Florence from April 9, 1492 – the day of the death of Lorenzo di’ Medici – to May 23, 1498 – the day on which Savonarola was publicly strangled and burnt for heresy. During this period, also, we witness the French invasion of Italy in 1494. Romola deals with the first years of Republican government under the leadership of the Dominican Friar and p
Czarny Pies
Jan 09, 2016 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only those who have done some readign about Giuseppe Mazzini.
Recommended to Czarny by: Christopher Duggan in the Force of Destiny commented positively on it.
Shelves: english-lit
Published between second (1859) and third (1866) Italian War of Independence, George Eliot's Romola contains amongst other things a serious reflection on the Republic of Rome which had a six month existence during the first Italian war of Independence (1849). I would strongly advise the GoodReads membersto read a book or two on the Italian Wars of Independence (a.k.a. the Risorgimento, a.k.a. the Movement for Italian Unification) before starting Romola. With the appropriate background knowledge ...more
Feb 25, 2008 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea why Eliot considered Romola her greatest work. Certainly, she always does her homework. In this case--at least for a modern reader--the evidence of that seemed heavy handed. I'm sure this is illustrative of the tradition of historical novels, but forcing a narrative onto such a specific set of circumstances constrained the plot and made most of the storyline untenable. Of all her novels, this is the one I would recommend last.
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2015: The Year of...: Romola by George Eliot 20 41 Nov 23, 2015 01:43PM  
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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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