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Middlemarch
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1001 book reviews > Middlemarch

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Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 481 comments It is a pity that George Eliot was writing so long ago, because this story would have been excellent as a popular trilogy accompanying a multi-season TV series. So much happens in this one novel that it is an exhausting read, but a good one. I am sure I'll be rereading this book. After reading several other long novels recently by Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy, I was glad to start a long novel by a woman, though wary of taking on another weighty-tome. I like Eliot's writing better that that of Dickens, Tolstoy, or Dostoyevsky, it turns out, though this is still a 'weighty-tome'.
On the surface this book is about the marriages of various young people and how they work out, or how they fall short of being excellent marriages. But every so often Eliot throws in commentary about gender roles, or snide/sarcastic observations about the way her characters behave, a tone I found surprisingly modern for such a classic novel. Several of the female characters, Dorothea especially, but others as well, are shown by Eliot to have had the potential for much greater fulfillment in their lives if they could have independently pursued their own intellectual interests, with the education and social acceptance that men in her novel take for granted. And while the women in her book are for various reasons restrained from joining men in an intellectual life, several of the main male characters lack basic understanding of practical and prudent matters like money. With these men making the big decisions for both themselves and the women they attach to themselves, they create more of a burden for themselves and everyone around them.
It would have been nice to see how this epic-length novel might have turned out if Eliot had been writing in today's trilogy-minded market. My biggest complaint with this book is really just its length. There is so much going on in this book that its ~900 pages are at the same time too few and too many. Still, of the tome-sized classics this is one of my favorites so far.
Rereading may help me sort out more of the details, but my general opinion of this one will probably still be favorable once this book finds its way back onto my TBR shelf for round 2. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4254 comments Mod
Read 2012
This story of ordinary lives lived in provincial England is a study of characters. It is a story of marriage but also of not belonging. The main characters are the passionate, idealistic Dorothea, the idealist doctor Lyndgate, the self absorbed, intellectual Mr. Causabon and the narcissistic, self-centered Rosamonde. The last two are characters you can love to hate while sometimes the idealism of the other two can irritate as well. It also is a story of “be sure your sins will find you out” and “oh what a tangled web we weave when once we practice to deceive. Ms Eliot really brings out the destruction of gossip and rumors that is part of living in a small town. For a 900 plus pages novel, this story goes by in a flash. I’ve also read Silas Marner by the author and while it was also good, I especially enjoyed Middlemarch. There is a historical social commentary that also flows through the story and it is about reform; improving life for the middle and lower classes.


Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 4 stars


This book has been on my TBR forever. I love Eliot and have read many of her books. Most people consider this her masterpiece, so I was excited to finally read it. It is a wonderfully written book, but maybe because it is hyped so much, I found myself a tad bit let down. I don't find it superior to her other books and I still consider Daniel Deronda to be my favorite of her books. Maybe I am just tired of reading about social classes in England. I might have also enjoyed it more if I read it instead of listened to it as an audiobook. I listened to the version read by Maureen O'Brien. I think the narration could be better. The book dragged at times, but I think it was more a reflection of the narration and less so about the book. So, I did like this book a lot, but it wasn't the 5-star read I anticipated it to be.

That aside, I think this is an extremely well-written book with well-drawn characters and important messages. It is a book I would like to revisit again in the future.


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