Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot


The classic story of an English town in the 1830's in which people argue, fall in love, and get married, not necessarily in that order.


Despite my affection for British literature, I've never gotten around to finishing anything by George Eliot before. The great thing about this story is that it feels very real. The people are flawed and nuanced, and everyone gets what they deserve in the end. The foolish but kind-hearted characters learn lessons and become wiser, and the selfish and hypocritical characters end up a bit worse off.

This is a long book, originally published in series, that follows the doings in and around the town of Middlemarch over the course of several years. There are smatterings of politics, religion, history, art, and business, and everything else that real people talk about. It gives an effective portrait of the way gossip spreads and evolves in a small town.

One of the good things about this book is that it doesn't end with the marriages of the various young people (unlike in a Jane Austen novel, for example). Eliot takes an honest look at the expectations and disappointments of marriage, especially at a time when people didn't get to know each other particularly well before getting hitched.


The author (real name Mary Ann Evans) doesn't have a website of course, but here's some more info about her life and work: George Eliot


Free Kindle edition


Were you disappointed by Dorothea's decision at the end of the book?


  1. I really like your blog :) FYI I featured you as my new book blog discovery on my Twitter page, hopefully you'll get some followers from it :) Here is the link to the tweet:!/thebookbuff/status/32944424992378880

    I like the premise of your blog, I get through my books the same way as you, on my Kindle during my long commute :) only mine is in Las Vegas (meaning public transportation is scary) so I drive and utilize the text to talk feature on my Kindle lol

  2. Hi Kate!

    Thank you for helping me spread the word. It's nice to see how friendly the book blogging community is so far.

    I haven't used the text to talk feature yet, but it sounds like a great use of time. Enjoy sunny Las Vegas!

  3. +JMJ+

    I wasn't disappointed by Dorothea's decision, but I was disappointed in Eliot's ending, if you take my meaning. I really wouldn't have minded the story wrapping up that way, especially since it had been set up near the beginning, but I don't think it really worked.

    I can think of another long novel originally published as a series in which the ending doesn't really live up to the beginning or the middle. (Title withheld because this could get spoilery!) I think it definitely has to do with the serial form allowing the authors to be "pantsers" rather than "planners." And when they have a huge cast of characters caught up in a delightfully tangled web it took months and months to weave . . . the simple act of tying up the loose ends might get overwhelming.

    PS--I love the way you have a one-sentence "gist" for every book instead of a multi-paragraph summary! =D

  4. Hi Enbrethiliel,

    Thank you for your comment! Now I'm trying to guess which book you mean :). Have you reviewed it on your blog?

    I think it's so interesting to look at the way in which a book was originally written/published to understand its structure and content. Dostoevsky, for example, used to procrastinate so badly that his secretary would have to practically rip pages out of his hands to take them to the printer. He often did not reread or revise anything before it was published. In this case I agree that I was a little unsettled by the way in which Eliot tied up her loose ends.

    Have a great weekend!

  5. +JMJ+

    Hmmmm. I haven't reviewed it, but I do mention it in this post. Scroll down to the second paragraph of the main part.

    (I hope you don't mind the link. As you can tell, I'm really anti-spoiler, and I'd hate to think of someone planning to read that other book, innocently wandering into this combox about Middlemarch, and seeing my nitpick of the former.)

    That's interesting about Dostoevsky. Although I haven't read him yet, I kind of admire his secretary now! LOL!

    Have a great weekend, too. =)


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