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Archived Group Reads 2011 > Daniel Deronda by George Eliot Chapters 54~ the end

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) For discussion of these chapters and your response to the entire book.


message 2: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 04, 2011 04:26PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) So how does everyone feel not only about the ending, but about the book as a whole? Was it worth the effort? Did it meet your expectations? Did you think it controversial? If you haven't read her other books, would reading this one make you want to read others of hers?

Please bear in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinion. You may not agree with it certainly, but please be respectful of all. I am sure that would be a fervent wish of our author. Thank you!


Elizabeth (Alaska) As you can imagine from my earlier discussion, I am not enamored of this one. As said earlier (by someone else), there was too little foundation for Daniel's wish to be a Jew. And there was not enough information as to why Gwendolyn suddenly became a wimp. I know, I know, she felt guilty because Lydia included the letter. Well, what did Grandcourt do to make her immediately cow to his control? We see none of that!

You asked earlier if we thought this would be better as two novels, and I admit to thinking that as I was reading. I have changed my mind. The characters of Daniel and Gwendolyn meet often enough that two novels would not be desirable, I think.

I've come away wondering what Lydia's reaction was to her hollow victory? I hate wishing the author had written a different story, but this novel was long enough she could have included 10 pages on this.


message 4: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 04, 2011 04:28PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I, too, was not in love with this novel. I felt it started out quite strong, (although I disliked Gwen greatly). I thought the characterization to be quite superb too!

The book, for me, petered out with the Daniel and the Jewishness question. I just could not believe in his give up everything, fall in love with a Jewish girl, and find salvation in Palestine routine. The book left too many questions in my mind. Did or rather how did the young couple get to Palestine and once they were there where did they go? Wasn't it extremely hard for anyone to emmigrate there?Did they just set up and start what, I do
not know. Most puzzling to me how could Mirah, being such a devout Jew consider killing
herself? What about Gwen? Does Gwen find herself being the woman of strong character
she so wished to be? What happened to their story. It all fell apart. It was as if Eliot
decided ok I think I will end here leaving the reader puzzled, unsure, and not fully
satisfied. (at least I wasn't)

I am one of those who think she tried too hard to weave the threads of Daniel and
Gwen's lives together. I certainly applaud Eliot's need to portray the Jewish people's
plight. She did try to make that group acknowledged and recognized, and for that she
should be recognized as a revolutionary among Victorian writers. Many Victorian authors would not have gone near that topic at all and if they did mention Jews, it was in
derogatory terms.

All in all, I had high expectations. I am certainly not an Eliot scholar and I have read only
one other of her books. I came away disappointed, but with a fuller knowledge of the why
and how of this novel. I will eventually pick up another Eliot book, but just not yet.


message 5: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Nov 04, 2011 04:25PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) I'm sure you'll be amused - but I didn't particularly like Gwen either. It didn't bother me so much that she wanted life her way, as in the beginning. But what happened to that woman? It's not just poverty that did her in. Gwen was educated - well, enough that she could be a governess. Why not the school? Why not make something of herself? And yes, I know this was Victorian times, and it was ever so much more difficult for a woman. But this was written by a woman! Why not show the world what a woman could do!?!


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 31 comments I agree with both of you. I thought the book started out strong, but Daniel's embracing his Jewish roots seemed forced and a bit preachy. I admire Eliot for banishing the usual Victorian stereotype of casting Jews as greedy or villains. But she handled this issue in a very forced manner. Also, I agree that some of the details didn't get wrapped up. I would like to have seen how Mrs. Glasher reacted to Grandcourt's will. I've only read one other book by Eliot - Middlemarch. For me, this was no comparison to that book.


message 7: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments I liked this book greatly! I'm trying to convince my husband to read it, since he so interested in hebrew culture.
And I don't think as some of you said, that Daniel's motivation to be a Jew is too little founded. His sense of being, as we sai in Italy, no meat no fish, is deeply felt by him, since he was quite a little lad.
I didn't like Gwen; I felt her "changing" not so true. And too depended from Daniel's presence!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I am so glad you enjoyed this novel, Laura. For a great book, on the Jewish culture, IMO, I would recommend Leon Uris' Exodus.


message 9: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments This was the first book by Eliot that I read and I loved it. The only problems I had with it were that it dragged a bit in the Mordechai monologue sections and it would have been nice to resolve the Gwendolen story a bit more. For me, Eliot more than made up for plot problems with her glorious use of language and some great characterizations.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I am very glad you so enjoyed the book,Bea. I, too, thought her characterizations were quite something.


message 11: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments I've seen the film Exodus Marialyce. I think I'm going to look for the book to give my husband for Christmass! Thanks for the suggestion.


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Marialyce wrote: "So how does everyone feel not only about the ending, but about the book as a whole? Was it worth the effort?

Marginally.

Did it meet your expectations?

Almost. I didn't think her characters were quite as well portrayed as in her other books. I had read a bit over the years about the Jewish element of it, but I frankly didn't expect it to be quite so heavy handed.

Did you think it controversial?

I didn't find it so, but I can see that for its time it must have been very much so. Of course, her life was controversial, so that was nothing new for her. But still, I think it took some courage to write. It probably helped that she was already well established and financially secure when she wrote it, so the risks were not that great for her; if she had written it early in her career I think it would have been both more controversial (established authors are given some leeway) and far more potentially damaging to her career.

If you haven't read her other books, would reading this one make you want to read others of hers?"

I have read her other books, which is why I wanted to read this one, but frankly, if I had read this first I'm not sure it would have excited me about reading her other works. Which would have been a shame, since I am a great admirer of most of he work.

Please bear in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinion. You may not agree with it certainly, but please be respectful of all.

Good reminder.


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Marialyce wrote: "I just could not believe in his give up everything, fall in love with a Jewish girl, and find salvation in Palestine routine."

I agree with that. I think that it was a bit of a mistake for her to be so ardently polemical in a novel.


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments After finishing the book I got the BBC production DVD from the library. It's excellent. Very true to the novel (as is usually the case with Andrew Davies). The acting was uniformly very good and in some cases truly superb. I found Hugh Dancy a bit weak as Deronda, but Hugh Bonneville was absolutely superb as Grandcourt, Edward Fox was equally superb as Hugo Mallinger, and Romola Garai was close to superb as Gwendolyn. The direction was excellent; very subtle, and it helped a lot to know the book.

I highly recommend it.


message 15: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 09, 2011 06:15PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I did watch it as well and I totally agree. It is well worth the effort as you have said, it did follow the novel quite well.


message 16: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments I'll have to look for it then; I love BBC productions!!!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Just want to thank all who read and participated in this group read. The threads will remain open so please feel free to write and respond to this novel.

We hope that you all will join us with our Dickens' books.


message 18: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 31 comments Marialyce wrote: "Just want to thank all who read and participated in this group read. The threads will remain open so please feel free to write and respond to this novel.

We hope that you all will join us with our..."

Thanks, Marialyce, for moderating the discussion. I loved the background info on Eliot as well as the letter on her intentions regarding Judaism. It's a lot of time to moderate a book like this - THANK YOU!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) You are very welcome Julie. Please join us with the Dickens' books. They are bit looking to be great reads.


message 20: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 19 comments Here I am, a month after everyone else finished, so I'm not sure if anyone will read this, but here's my opinion.
First of all, I enjoyed the book overall, but kept feeling that it badly needed editing. Especially some of the Mordecai passages...I wanted to say to her...this bit is way too long, you'll lose your readers at this point. Yet other passages were absolutely brilliant for their insights into the internal motivations of various characters...Grandcourt amusing himself by his power over Gwendolen...for some of us it can be hard to imagine why someone would enjoy making another squirm, but Eliot made him so believable that it made me begin to wonder about her. Who is this woman that she can explain these characters so well, and what is it that she has observed or experienced in her own life that gives her these insights? I hope I can find the BBC recording, because it occurred to me as I was reading that the book was written as a series of scenes, almost as if for a movie...and quite a modern one in its format with flashbacks, memories, twists and turns. I was prepared for Daniel to discover his Jewish heritage by little hints along the way...about his foreign appearance...Mallinger wondering whether Daniel might be interested in singing...there were definitely various hints ...in fact Eliot gives very detailed descriptions of people's appearance. I thought it was a very worthwhile book and mostly enjoyed the reading experience. My only criticisms would be: firstly as previously mentioned the lengthy passages about Jewish matters which didn't seem to move the story along, the very contrived plot re the death of Grandcourt...(did this seem a bit contrived to anyone else?), and the ending, where we were suddenly dropped, with the Deronda/Mirah situation neatly resolved ...but what about Gwendolen, Meyrick and Rex? For although the initial flashback chapter introduces us to the person whose name gives the book its title, much of the body of the book follows the development and internal conflicts in that self-centred and ultimately somewhat remorseful little person of Gwendolen, whose complexity demonstrates Eliot's genius, so we are kind of left hanging in the end. I almost felt as if there were chapters missing, and I see from the comments that others felt a bit let down as well. The frankness with which Eliot wrote about human passions and motivations and the views expressed about marriage must have created quite a stir at the time it was written. This book could have used a bit of editing, perhaps had some chapters shortened, and a bit of expansion at the end, but overall was well worth reading, raised a lot of issues, provided much food for thought and certainly holds its place amongst the classics.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Jan wrote: "Here I am, a month after everyone else finished, so I'm not sure if anyone will read this, but here's my opinion.
First of all, I enjoyed the book overall, but kept feeling that it badly needed edi..."


Jan, I am really happy that you enjoyed this experience. I agree totally with your review and felt that with editing and a better ending this book would have really shone. Instead, while I felt it was good, it was not the outstanding read it could have been IMHO. Thank you for reading with us and thank you for your review.


message 22: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 19 comments And thank you for the acknowledgement.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Jan, I feel like I should copy and paste your review into mine - it so accurately reflects my thinking on this book.


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Jan wrote: "Here I am, a month after everyone else finished, so I'm not sure if anyone will read this, but here's my opinion.
First of all, I enjoyed the book overall, but kept feeling that it badly needed edi..."


Excellent review.

I agree that for the modern reader the Mordecai passages could use editing. But I think perhaps that her intent in them was to educate her readers, mostly intelligent readers, who were woefully ignorant about Jewish history and unsympathetic toward Jewish aspirations. Modern Western readers, with the history of the Holocaust and the State of Israel before us, have perhaps less need for such information, and find those passages excessive.


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