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Felix Holt: The Radical
George Eliot
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Felix Holt: The Radical

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,802 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Two men vying for the hand of Esther, a young woman of charm and virtue, are Felix Holt, an idealistic young artisan, and Harold Transome, the intelligent heir to an estate. She is drawn to Holt yet has dreams of marrying into a life of refinement.
Published (first published 1866)
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The first book I have finished in 2011 is a classic written by the estimable George Eliot, whose novel Middlemarch I fell completely in love with. I found Felix Holt to be an inferior work, but still entertaining and quite gripping toward the end of the book. The Transome estate is in neglect when we first enter the scene, and the stately lady of the house is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second-born son who has recently become the inheritor of everything. Lady Transome has many high hopes ...more
Scriptor Senex
I commented in relation to John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ that a sentence of 157 words was the nail in its coffin. I noticed while reading ‘Felix Holt’ that there were four consecutive sentences of 78, 13, 100, and 64 words. The difference is that in 1866 George Eliot wrote perfect prose, properly punctuated and capable of being understood and enjoyed despite the sentence length. The whole book is a clever, frank portrayal of the 1832 election when England ( I use the specific advisedly) was in the m ...more
Felix Holt: The Radical is one of Eliot's finer works and a great 19c. novel. In many ways, it's a shorter and much more readable version of Middlemarch , and, being the book which directly precedes it, can be read as its predecessor. In F.H., Eliot explores her constant concern: the tensions between the intricate and overpowering contingencies of historical circumstance which influence and determine human action and the innate spirit of sympathy and virtue that struggles to transcend those c ...more
Joyce M. Tice
Purchased Jan 2006
April 9, This is dragging, but I am determined. At least 2/3 done and plugging on.
April 10 - I dragged myself to page 261 and resolved that I could not go further. I made one last attempt and, voila, finally all the long pages of stage setting started to produce something interesting. I may be able to finish this after all. Volumes One and Two set things up and it looks as though Volume Three finally will get to the point.
April 11 - Done - at last. I really like Eliot's plots
Who would think that 1830's English politics could be so riveting? Seriously, it may start off slow, but this is one of my favorites of Eliot's (after Middlemarch, of course).
This novel found George Eliot returning to her more accustomed themes and settings after her historical melodramatic romance Romola met with little public success. While Felix Holt again deals with a small rural community forced to deal with modern changes, with characters representative of different strands of tradition and innovation, the story lacks the passion and drive of Eliot's other novels such as Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and Adam Bede.

A resolutely sensible and sometimes plodding no
Aug 22, 2007 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I can't wait to read this book, and I'm not ashamed to admit that my excitement has as much to do with the particular edition as with the plot! Emily just returned from Charleston, South Carolina where she found this gorgeous gold-guilt, red leather and red marble-paper bound edition from the late 1800s! The best part: my latest copy of the periodical Victorian Studies (49.1) arrived today as well, and the front cover bears one of the illustrations from this copy of Felix Holt! Thanks a bunch Em ...more
Paula Dembeck
This book marks another step on my journey to try to read as many of the classics as I can. I have to intersperse these selections with more recent novels as the older writing styles often seem long and ponderous. That may be due to the fact that authors were once paid by the number of pages they wrote, encouraging them to meander and elongate a story line. Today the opposite is true, when faster moving plots and succinct writing styles are the norm.

This novel takes place in the sleepy village
This involved the run up to an election after the first Reform Act and the rioting on election day. Interestingly the rector's response to the unrest is literally to "read the Riot Act".

Some of the chapters about Mr Lyon, the dissenting minister were a bit tiresome although the storyline about his proposed debate with the curate who ran away was funny. Mrs Holt was good value. I understand Mrs Transome's character is generally thought to be interesting, but I found her a bit one-dimensional: al
I think Esther made the wrong choice.
Anthony Peter
I read this as it was the choice of the month for the book group I convene. Some of us (self included) finished it and enjoyed it; some of us finished it and did not enjoy it; some of us stopped after ten chapters describing George Eliot as 'preachy and pedantic'.

I am not unsympathetic to that observation, but I'm not unhappy to be preached at pedantically if the preaching and the pedantry are careful and reflective and avoid ranting. George Eliot invites you to consider her considerations, I f
If this book is known for anything, it's probably either that it's George Eliot's least-read novel (next to Romola), or that it's what people label her 'political' novel. I must say that in the case of the former, I can kind of see why. Romola, the other obscurity in Eliot's oeuvre, is dense and heavy reading, probably too bogged down in showing off how much research the author has done - plus it alienates her readers by not being set in her usual provincial English setting. Nonetheless, it has ...more
It's easy to classify Felix Holt as sort of a lesser Middlemarch. Like the latter novel, it surveys a provincial town through multiple intersecting plotlines and is set just after the 1832 Reform Bill. As usual, Eliot balances the various plotlines well and creates characters who, if not sympathetic, are at least understandable in their motives. I think the election plot is the strongest, mainly because it is rather unique subject matter for a novel of this era. The rest of the book turns on rat ...more
When I first started this book last month, being, I believe, the fourth time I have read it, I remembered very little about the plot, this being the George Eliot novel that least sticks in my mind. I recalled that there was a minister's daughter often at (emotional) odds with her father and an idealistic working man.

I could remember little else, but as I read, even as parts of the story seemed very new to me, I realized how much the novel had influenced me, helping me understand the notion that
I first read Felix Holt about 15 years ago, and it didn't catch me as much as other, more popular novels by Eliot. Having just re-read it, I now understand why.

This is a novel that depends on an understanding of the political state of the UK in I think the 1830s. On first reading, I just didn't have the insight to make any sense of some of the motives and events. Going back armed with a few ideas about the history of political reform, I experienced the book in a very different way, getting far m
This is Eliot limbering up for the masterwork that is Middlemarch. It's not her best book, but it's still streets ahead of the competition and compulsively readable. Felix Holt: The Radical, like many books of the time, features religious controversy, an inheritance plot requiring several scarcely believable coincidences with much legal debate and a political theme as well as the obligatory central romance. What many of the other books, or rather their authors, lack, however, is Eliot's extraord ...more
George Eliot is wonderful and I stand in awe of her intellect. I was glued to this book: a moral, social and legal thriller. Many of Eliot's themes are echoed in Hardy eg 'Adam Bede' and 'Tess'. Hers is a portrayal of the working class which is real and honest and loving, not always romanticised. Dec 1998.
I was surprised how easy I found this to read since I remember Middlemarch being a slog. I love her characters. It's only not five stars because I can't quite see why Esther and Felix couldn't do more good if they had kept more money and because the nineteenth century mind is sometimes an uncomfortable place for a twenty first century one to be.
What an interesting book this was. I hadn't heard of this particular Eliot book before I stumbled across it at Russel Books in Victoria. Very political and thus right up my alley. I have always enjoyed George Eliot books because she had a decidedly feminist take on her life and times which comes through in her stories in a more direct manner than Jane Eyre or other female writers of the 1800s. I had not remembered how "old fashioned" her use of the english language was and found that aspect rath ...more
Felix Holt is a surprising triumph for Eliot. For the first time, she engages fully with some of the deeper socio-political issues of her day and age. The plot is almost Dickensian in the amount of intrigue, scandal, and romance, which is a good thing for the sometimes achingly slow Eliot. Despite the (comparatively) racing plot, it is the emotional and psychological moments of the novel that are the strongest. Lady Transome is the best character I've read from Eliot yet. Felix Holt gets passed ...more
Amanda Burrows
Not as fantastic as Middlemarch, but still a good read to get an idea of public opinion of the Reform Bill. Maybe not as political as the title suggests though.
Cooper Renner
Though Eliot's style is of course 'literary', in subject matter and happenstance this is not terribly far from the 'novels of sensation' so popular in the later Victorian period, nor is it unlike the work that Hardy would be producing in the following decades. Eliot's and Trollope's treatment of 19th century electioneering practices resemble one another as well. There is a great deal of explication and direct characterization in the fashion that so often exasperates us contemporary readers, but ...more
June Louise
I normally soak up 19th century classic novels, as they are my favourite genre. However, I have to confess to struggling with this novel. I have got to page 298 (chapter 31) and am finding it extremely "heavy weather" and am finding the plot hard to follow. "Middlemarch", to my mind, was much more readable. I am hoping that the final half of "Felix Holt" improves, as I am determined to stick this story out.

I have read other political novels, most recently the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope
A "historical novel" of sorts, this is one I'd not have read without the backing of a "literature class"--a small, informal group that meets once a week on the small island where I live (led by a Professor Emeritus who lives on a neighboring island). If considered along with the political background of Eliot's time, and read along with a poem by Wordsworth (Tintern Abbey), and essays by John Ruskin, it's a fascinating look into the political and moral perspectives of England's intellectual class ...more
I love Eliot's books so I'm not sure why I never read this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It may not be Middlemarch, but I enjoyed it more than The Mill on the Floss. Reading this on the heels of an excellent Trollope novel and I have to agree with Erik that Eliot is a whole other order of novelists. Her expansive scope is extraordinary, both in how it situates people in the larger world of politics and in its perspective on people and how their lives unfold over time. She was my age when she wrote this and she's much wiser.
It was interesting to read this book in conjunction with Bleak House (entirely by coincidence!) since it seems like Eliot is writing partly in response to some of the more disturbing/problematic aspects of Dickens' novel. Gorgeous prose and engaging characters, but I think ultimately I liked it more than I would have otherwise because of the Bleak House connection than for its own merits.
Duncan Mclaren
An enjoyable read, with more insight into Eliot's own views about politics and reform than appear in her other books. Although described as a convoluted plot, the linear narrative is not difficult to follow, once you get into the archaic language. Sadly the plot twists are also fairly obvious, but the pleasure of reading Eliot is not that of a mystery or thriller.
It's Eliot, so of course I loved it. It's not nearly as powerful as Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda, though. It's much more like Adam Bede than any of her other works, though both Adam Bede and Felix Holt at much better than most novels. Definitely worth the read, but if it's your first George Eliot, be sure not to judge her merits by this book alone.
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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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Middlemarch Silas Marner The Mill on the Floss Adam Bede Daniel Deronda

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“There is much pain that is quite noiseless; and vibrations that make human agonies are often a mere whisper in the roar of hurrying existence. There are glances of hatred that stab and raise no cry of murder; robberies that leave man or woman forever beggared of peace and joy, yet kept secret by the sufferer—committed to no sound except that of low moans in the night, seen in no writing except that made on the face by the slow months of suppressed anguish and early morning tears. Many an inherited sorrow that has marred a life has been breathed into no human ear.” 11 likes
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