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Buddy Reads > The Mill on the Floss - Buddy Read

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message 1: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments It's 601 pages to the end of The Mill on the Floss, we've got a full pot of coffee, half a box of chocolates, it's the first of February and we're wearing fluffy socks.
Hit it.

Welcome to the buddy read of George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss. :D


message 2: by Bat-Cat (new)

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments Hi Guys, I am in for this read and very excited about it. My participation will most likely be a bit sporadic for a while as I have been traveling back and forth between Texas and Connecticut as a result of an ailing father and will be making the trip again very shortly because his passing is imminent and soon. On a positive note, all of this travel affords me plenty of time to read... in airports, on planes, on buses, etc. so there should be no problem (fingers crossed) with taking on this book at this time.

Let the reading begin!!!


message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments Love the set up, Leni--the socks especially.

I am sorry about your father, Bat-Cat. It is good that you can be with him as much as possible, but very hard on you I'm sure. Reading is a solace though, and who better to console you than our buddy George Eliot!

I'm reading two other tomes right now--The Three Musketeers and The Big Green Tent, so I may get sidetracked on and off. But I just found my copy of Mill, dusted it off, cracked it open and went "ahhhhhhhhh." This is going to be good.


message 4: by Bat-Cat (new)

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments Kathleen wrote: "Love the set up, Leni--the socks especially.

I am sorry about your father, Bat-Cat. It is good that you can be with him as much as possible, but very hard on you I'm sure. Reading is a solace thou..."


Thanks Kathleen. Yes, I did get to spend some quality time with him this past week which was great. I just heard this morning that he passed peacefully last night so I'm on the road again on Friday.

I am reading Three Musketeers as well and managed to get to 70% this past week!!! I really love it - definitely amusing and a wonderful diversion. I have great expectations for George Eliot and am excited about getting started. I may have to wait due to lots of preparations for the trip. Things should balance out soon though and I expect to be back to discussions on a regular basis again.

Thanks again for your sweet and thoughtful sentiments and look forward to discussing Mill on the Floss with you really soon!!! ;-)


message 5: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments Bat-Cat wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Love the set up, Leni--the socks especially.

I am sorry about your father, Bat-Cat. It is good that you can be with him as much as possible, but very hard on you I'm sure. Reading..."


Oh dear. I'm glad it didn't drag out for him though. Will be thinking of you--take care.


message 6: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Oh! My condolences, Bat-Cat. I'm glad you had the chance to spend time with him.


message 7: by Bat-Cat (new)

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments Thanks Kathleen and Leni. It ended up being the best scenario possible and I am quite grateful for that. And the circle of life continues to turn. ;-)


message 8: by Loretta (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments Bat-Cat wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Love the set up, Leni--the socks especially.

I am sorry about your father, Bat-Cat. It is good that you can be with him as much as possible, but very hard on you I'm sure. Reading..."


My deepest sympathies Bat-Cat on the passing of your father. Sending prayers and God's blessings to you and your family. <3


message 9: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments I am sorry for your loss Ba-cat...

And Leni such a great set up like Kathleen said.I want some Coffe and Chocolate now..


message 10: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments I have read "Book First: Boy and Girl" and have some preliminary thoughts.

The Mill on the Floss is a lot easier to read than Middlemarch (even though the dialogue took some getting used to!). The writing, though still beautiful and perfect in every way, is less dense. (No wonder, as Middlemarch was an extremely ambitious work.) There are fewer characters to follow (so far at least), and they are all related. Everything centres around the Tullivers. But I find that, so far, I am not as sympathetic towards them as I was towards the Middlemarch characters, where Eliot managed to bring balance to even the least likeable characters. In the Mill of the Floss they are more universally ridiculous. But I do like Maggie. And Mr. Tulliver's main redeeming feature is his affection for his daughter. (So far I can't find any redeeming features in Mrs. Glegg.)

I started reading with very little idea what the book was about, other than "a brother and sister, particularly the sister", but I have found enough hints of dire events to come that I am reminded of reading Thomas Hardy. And that scares me. :-/


message 11: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments From what I understand, you are right to be afraid, Leni. We need to prepare ourselves. I am behind--have only read the first chapter, but that was lovely. :-)

I'm reading The Big Green Tent, and it is a little demanding as far as keeping the characters straight, so I want to get a little further along in that one before I dig into this. But my copy looks like this: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot , and Maggie keeps looking at me, calling to me ...


message 12: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments i just started it .... . and am liking it so far... ( Mr.Tulliver asking for the name of a good school)


message 13: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Kathleen wrote: "From what I understand, you are right to be afraid, Leni. We need to prepare ourselves. I am behind--have only read the first chapter, but that was lovely. :-)

I'm reading [book:The Big Green Tent..."


Oh dear... Maggie is clearly not happy that you are ignoring her! lol I think you have the most intimidating cover of the ones I have seen. "Pst, you there. What are you doing? Shouldn't you be reading me, hm?"


message 14: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Oh, you're all reading so quickly! I was going to join you in another week, as Hard Times goes well with me.


message 15: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments No no, Nente. It will be fine to join us in a week. I just wanted to make a start. I'm not going to speed through this. :) I have several other books I'm reading too.


message 16: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments Well Maggie ( The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot ) wore me down and I started this. I'll probably be reading it slowly though.

I found the dialogue cumbersome at first too, and I learned some new terms, like "Old Harry" and "getting your comb cut."

I just finished chapter 3, which gave me a nice familiar feeling when Eliot shows the thinking behind Mr. Riley's recommendation. Love how she does that. That's what helps the empathy along ... or not. :-)


message 17: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Yes, Mr. Riley... I have to admit that I was thinking exactly along those unfavourable terms that the narrator suspects of the reader. ;) Eliot is remarkably present in her narrator role. I mean, she strolls in the fields and contemplates buildings and people as if from memory. At first I was wondering if the narrator was one of the characters, many years later, but subsequently realised that no, it's just George Eliot beckoning us over and going into full storyteller mode. And she asserts herself at intervals, pointing things out, guiding us through the story.


message 18: by Bat-Cat (new)

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments I have reached 20% in this book and am still unsure about whether or not I like it. As has already been pointed out, it is easier to read than Middlemarch with fewer characters (but I'm not really crazy about most of them, except Maggie and Mr. Tulliver), the narrator is that ever present George Eliot (which is fairly interesting at times), and the writing is simply amazing (as I would expect from George Eliot) but... there is a lingering creepiness that seems to be lurking around every paragraph hinting at foreboding things to come. I got the same feeling with The Mysteries of Udolpho but for some reason it is not quite as enjoyable for me in this book... yet!?!?

It is still pretty early in the book though, so we will see how things evolve. I am not even considering stopping so I shall continue to let Ms. Eliot take me where she will. ;-)


message 19: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Well I'm just getting started, but agree with you Bat-Cat, the impending doom is in the air from the very first.


message 20: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments I am a few chapters into the School Time section, and have had a similar reaction to Bat-Cat. I'm actually finding it a little harder to read than Middlemarch. That Dodson clan she went on and on about (the nasty aunts) was kind of annoying. I didn't find them sympathetic characters at all, and I found almost everyone in Middlemarch sympathetic.

After that, it picked up and I liked it more, then it dragged again for a bit. So I'm not sure how it will go. BUT, just this morning I realized that I've had some of the draggy parts in the back of my mind, and have been thinking about them. So I decided there must be something to it. George Eliot is getting to me--subconsciously if not consciously. :-)


message 21: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Started on book 2 - about even with you Kathleen.
I get this undefinable feeling that George Eliot herself doesn't much like any of the characters. She's sort of looking down on them even when compassionate and understanding.
And yes, I didn't feel that in Middlemarch.


message 22: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments That is such an interesting point, Nente. I bet you're right. I wonder if it has anything to do with some of them supposedly being based on her own family?

I am starting Book 3 now, and it is rolling along. I'm hooked. Sad, but hooked.


message 23: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments Just reached the part where poor Maggie returns from her gypsy adventure...

Yup ,I did not like the aunts and uncles much either..The way they all treat Maggie is very harsh and sad
And Tom is very harsh,unsympathetic and very judgemental...

I like Mr.tulliver and his sister ok though.e sp when he turns back to his sister and thinks of his little wench and Tom..

And there is a foreboding of things to come.


message 24: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments It is very different from middlemarch...
Here the story centers around the three kids i think..of which only maggie is interesting...


message 25: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments I'm not quite half way, and will be reading this into March FYI, in case any of you will be too!

I'm enjoying it now though. Not as much as Middlemarch but that is a high bar!


message 26: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments I'll be reading in March too. I took a break, but now I'm half done with the third book (or "book third" as it says). It is starting to flow better for me. And Tom is shaping up a bit. Those maternal aunts though! Horrible, horrible people!


message 27: by Bat-Cat (last edited Feb 28, 2017 10:09AM) (new)

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments I will be reading into March as well. Things have been fairly busy around here - people are really hurting lately (good for business, bad for people) so I/we have been in the massage room more than not. But... I will continue to plug along as usual, pulling up the rear as I am so accustomed to doing.

Leni, glad to hear that things are starting to flow and that Tom is behaving better. I now have something tangible to look forward to. ;-)


message 28: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments I will be reading into March too..


message 29: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments Mrs.Glegg is funny..

"He might cherish the mean project of heightening her grief at his death by leaving her poorly off, in which case she was firmly resolved that she would have scarcely any weepier on her bonnet, and would cry no more than if he had been a second husband. "

She writes so mockingly of the high in status but entirely uneducated and the very proud but silly Dodsons.


message 30: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments It is just now , after getting hold of a pencil to mark as I read that I really started reading it.really focusing on it.


message 31: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Well, I'm done.
Yes, it did move on a lot quicker after the first three books. No, I'm quite unable to really like it.

Disjointed observations:
* I didn't find Tom's character quite consistent; Eliot always explained him in great detail, but the more she explained, the less it all hung together for me.
* The one really funny episode in the whole book is Bob Jakin vs. Mrs. Glegg. And one laugh is really too few for quite such a number of pages.
* I notice that, in the final part, Maggie was admired in great proportion because of her beauty; admittedly also because of her simplicity of manner and emotionality, but still primarily for beauty. That doesn't sit well with me. Wishful thinking here? Wasn't Eliot herself able, at last, to find intellectual companionship and be happy in it, in spite of lack of beauty?
* I do get all the vivid emotion, all the Greek tragedy and foreshadowings. But I don't have to like it.


message 32: by Simone (last edited Mar 06, 2017 12:20PM) (new)

Simone Martel | 45 comments Nente wrote: "Well, I'm done.
Yes, it did move on a lot quicker after the first three books. No, I'm quite unable to really like it.

Disjointed observations:
* I didn't find Tom's character quite consistent; E..."

I agree with your comment about beauty. It makes Galsworthy difficult to read sometimes. And Eliot was woman. It's so often implied in novels that a character is worth caring about at least partly because she's attractive. Or that outer-beauty reflects, what, inner-virtue?


message 33: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Yes, Simone, that's what I meant - Eliot was a physically unattractive woman and certainly suffered because of that, but she did find a man who loved her because of something else she had, and was happy with him (would be happier if it weren't for society conventions: he was married already). Why make Maggie rely on beauty, then, especially after being an awkward, unpretty child? Smacks of all-too-standard "ugly duckling" romance thing, surely George Eliot should have been above that.


message 34: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments I'm not at the part where she's admired for her beauty yet (just beginning Book Fifth). I wonder if there's any chance George Eliot focused on Maggie's beauty to draw attention away from comparisons with herself?

I have to finish before I have a real idea about this, but I am very curious about how she portrays this family, if it is indeed to be like her own. It's almost like she's working out some demons. A puzzling business, as Mr. Tulliver would say. :-)


message 35: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments But maybe she wanted to be a bit more attractive..

In Middlemarch my favorite character Mary is plain whereas the least likeable character (Rosamund ) is very beautiful.

Or maybe she wrote so because beauty sells.


message 36: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments I havent reached anywhere there either.


message 37: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments I think maybe it was a mistake to read Middlemarch first. Making comparisons is unavoidable, and must invariably turn out in favour of Middlemarch. It's like The Mill on the Floss was a practise round for trying things out and honing her skill. I wonder if I'll experience all her other work in the same way? Steppingstones on the way to Middlemarch.

But I haven't finished the book yet, I have only reached book Fifth. And I found some real G. E. magic in book Fourth. The "elasticity of youth" that cannot understand why the face of bitter middle age is unable to smile. How poor people might find a pressing need for answers to questions the rich never think to ask, as the rich have pastimes to whittle away their ennui. The way Maggie launches herself into humility and self-abnegation with zest. How we all like to choose "the path of martyrdom and endurance, where the palm branches grow, rather than the steep highway of tolerance, just allowance, and self-blame where there are no leafy honours to be gathered and worn".

But I find the spell breaks every time Eliot tries to be funny, or sarcastic, about "the old times". She keeps making fun of things that aren't silly, and calling rather timeless things backwards. Which makes it seem like it is her own time she is making fun of, except it seems rather malapropos. I guess her digs made more sense to her contemporary readers. (I mean, why make a point of how plaiting hair into a coronet is a "pitiable fashion of those antiquated times"? Was the plaited coronet their version of our 80s haystack or mullets, or what?)


message 38: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments Hmm. Elena, you're probably right about GE wanting to be more attractive. This might have been a big obsession with her, and may have given us this drawing of Maggie.

And Leni, I don't like the way she interjects opinions about the times either. It comes off snobbish. But I was struck by those same parts you mentioned--really breathtaking stuff. How perceptive you are, the way you describe Maggie "launching herself into humility and self-abnegation with zest." I hadn't thought of it that way, but yes exactly!


message 39: by Nente (new)

Nente | 780 comments Leni, I absolutely read it all as a dig at her own times! There was one sequence right at the start about "not all clergymen were good scholars at that ancient time", feeling exactly as if she were critiquing modern-to-her clergymen.


message 40: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Yes, Nente, you must be right. She's also been talking about how silly they were back then to hold that one should pay ones debts, whereas now we know that there must be debts and so we might as well have them. Some of her digs work quite well today too! But they still take me out of the text.


message 41: by Anna (new)

Anna | 13 comments Leni wrote: "I think maybe it was a mistake to read Middlemarch first. Making comparisons is unavoidable, and must invariably turn out in favour of Middlemarch. ."

I'm probably alone in this, but I actually much prefer The Mill on the Floss, especially Maggie to Dorothea. I find the characters in The Mill so much more alive and sympathetic than the ones in Middlemarch. The only character I actually liked in Middlemarch was probably Bulstrode, everyone else was too good, but Maggie is one of my favourite characters in literature.


message 42: by Nente (last edited Mar 10, 2017 04:13AM) (new)

Nente | 780 comments Risking offtopic: in Middlemarch, I found Lydgate a torn and conflicted character, but very much alive. And surely you couldn't call his Rosamond good...


message 43: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2054 comments I too liked Lydgate...NOT Rosamund ...
Most of the characters were ok... I esp liked Mary her family and Fred,then The vicar his mother and sister,by the end I like Dodo too and her sister and her husband and their silly uncle too...and Bulstrodes wife and Freds father...

I did not like Bulstrode or the man who blackmailed him...


message 44: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments That is really interesting, Anna. I didn't find all the Middlemarch characters good, for sure, but maybe Eliot focused more on goodness in Middlemarch than in Mill.

I get the feeling in Middlemarch she liked all her characters and in Mill she seems to dislike them. I can see where that could be more interesting in a way, but I find myself looking for her to show me something redeeming in them. Except for Maggie and her father (who I think are both flawed, interesting and compelling), they could sort of all drown in the Floss and it would be no great loss. (Especially Mrs. Tulliver who I am finding less sympathetic than some serial killers I've read about!) Whereas in Middlemarch, we could have sympathy even for Casaubon and Rosamond.

I keep thinking this dislike for the characters in Mill is because they're based on people she really knew

I can definitely see why Maggie is a favorite character. I like her a lot too!


message 45: by Anna (new)

Anna | 13 comments Oh no, I forgot about Rosamund! (Too many characters in that book...) Yes, I actually liked Rosamund, and I definitely wouldn't call her 'good', which is probably why I liked her. I feel like the 'good' characters of Middlemarch are so annoying, like they're never done anything wrong ever (or if they have, they haven't had much fun doing it). To me, the Garths are the pinnacle of nauseating goodness.

I don't know, the characters in The Mill are so much more alive. Like, every time I read like two pages of it, I want to punch Tom in the face immediately and cry about Maggie. I think Eliot showed more sympathy in The Mill. And I actually really like Stephen! I think I like all the characters in Eliot I'm supposed to hate.


message 46: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments I finished Book fifth, and have to say the part towards the end when (view spoiler) is my favorite part so far.

I'm enjoying reading this very slowly. How is everyone else doing with it?


message 47: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Kathleen wrote: "I finished Book fifth, and have to say the part towards the end when [spoilers removed] is my favorite part so far.

I'm enjoying reading this very slowly. How is everyone else doing with it?"


I'm also about to start Book sixth. I think Bob is my favourite character, along with Maggie. I took a little break to read the second half of Little Women, which has been waiting for me since December. And I have to say, that after the saccharine sweet wholesomeness of every single character in that book I am now ready to welcome a dose of Mrs. Glegg.


message 48: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments I finished this today, and I have to say GE won me over yet again. It definitely wasn’t as good as Middlemarch for me—she interrupted the story too many times to speak directly to the reader, I didn’t believe the plot around Stephen, and a few other nitpicks. But she is so good at making you think about why people do what they do! I loved Maggie, and I loved the diversity of personality in the other characters.

I think by the end I was thinking of it in terms of the points Eliot was trying to make more than about Maggie the character, so found the ending strangely satisfying.

Looking forward to what those of you who haven't finished yet thought!


message 49: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments I just finished it a few minutes ago. I'm pretty much of your mind, Kathleen. Although I think you must be the only person in the history of this novel to find the ending satisfying! lol! At least according to Walter Allen who has written a postscript in the penguin edition. But he also half defends it, saying that she had no other recourse than to fall back on 'one of the cliché endings of Victorian fiction'. (Huge spoiler coming up for those who haven't read to the very end:) (view spoiler)

He also claims that she spent too little time on Stephen, he is thrust upon the reader and Eliot fails to show his character development. (Lesser spoiler:) (view spoiler) And I admit that would change things a bit, if we had been shown what was clearly a genuine relationship and not just lust for forbidden fruit. It would make Maggie's sacrifice rather pointless. Tom was perhaps more right than he knew when he said that she was too easily swayed and carried away. And Phillip, pf course, was quite prescient when he said that all her youthful denial of self would be harmful. Maggie has no balance, she is either swept away by emotion or she denies herself all emotion but that of dutiful self-sacrifice. She has never learned balance, and she has no one to confide in and ask for help (since confession in her experience only leads to punishment and withdrawal of affection).

I did enjoy how both Mrs. Tulliver and Mrs. Glegg showed surprising sides to themselves in the end. It seems like Eliot tried to hard to satirize everyone in the beginning, also with the asides to the reader. That disappears in the final several chapters, and I prefer her calm rants about public opinion and maxims in the chapter 'St. Oggs passes judgment'. She's not trying to be sardonic or funny there, she just cuts to the bone.


message 50: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3936 comments Oh yay that we finished together, Leni!

I didn't believe a thing about Stephen. (view spoiler)

But Maggie I found very believable. Like Dorothea at the beginning of Middlemarch, she's so earnest--probably like Eliot herself. Love your point about her never being helped to learn about balance.

I wanted more about Mrs. Glegg at the end. And I loved that St. Oggs passes judgment chapter!

I think what I liked about the end was (view spoiler)


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