Middlemarch by George Elliot

I finally finished this book. I think it took me upwards of 6 months. It’s long. And it’s not really that fast-moving.

I did care about the characters though.

But the real reason I persevered is because my Victorian lit teacher said that Middlemarch is Elliot’s quintessential book. I had read Mill On the Floss in his class and truly enjoyed it. He said he would have liked to have us read Middlemarch, but it was too long to read for the class. We were already reading a lot of other books.

When I finished Middlemarch, I really wished that I had read in it a class. It seems to me that there was a lot going on, and that I would have been better able to understand it if I’d had some people to talk it out with.

I especially thought that the ladies in the book were interesting archetypes. This was not a book about one female heroine. Or even one male hero. There were a lot of stories of different people who chose to live their lives in different ways.

Dorothea is the most interesting character. But Mary Garth is very sympathetic, and Rosamond had promise. Celia, Dorothea’s sister, could have gone either way. She ended up being a little too good a fit for the mold of society. That made her much less interesting.

But she had no desire to be interesting.

Well, in the absence of a class discussion, I looked up some websites to see what others had to say. Here is one website’s list of major themes.

But the specific treatment of the women on the book was lacking.

Too bad. I guess nothing really takes the place of free discussion.

I think, right now, that I liked Mill on the Floss much better. But maybe Middlemarch will grow on me with time.

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