Author: George Eliot
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors?
What a first line, right? I’m so glad that I had many people, including my best friend, telling me that Middlemarch is a must-read, and worth the time investment. Because, honestly, the sheer size of the book, plus that first line, would have been enough to turn me off right away. I tried to read it years before, and only made it to page thirty or so before I gave up. Not this time, though; thanks to the challenge, I knew I was in for the long haul – and it was so very worth it!
Spoiler alert: I intend to list everything I enjoyed about this book, and that will include plot spoilers. Read on at your own risk.
~ Dorothea – I really liked her character. Yes, she can come off a bit self-righteously, and she made a horrible choice in a first husband, but she truly desires to do good in the world. It seems like so many of the female characters in this era of fiction are simply interested in finding a husband with a comfortable income, and yet Dorothea was so uninterested in her wealth except as a means to help others.
~ Causubon’s death – I was so happy that he died. Dorothea made a terrible mistake in marrying him, and I was glad it was a mistake she only had to live with for a couple of years. Can you imagine growing old married to such a man?
~ Featherstone – I loved the way that he played with his relatives expectations and greed when it came to inheriting his estate.
Fred and Mary – This couple was my favorite thing about the book, hand’s down. I was disappointed for Fred that he didn’t inherit Featherstone’s fortune, but I truly believe he became a better man for having to work for his living. And he became the right man for Mary, whose love for him never wavered, even when he was disappointing her belief in him. I loved the working out of their relationship, and watching Fred mature into a man she could be proud to be married to.
Lydgate’s medical practice – Anyone who is on the cutting edge in a field suffers criticism, and Lydgate was no different. People didn’t understand his methods, and yet he honestly wanted to further medical understanding and knowledge. It’s too bad he wasn’t as smart in his marriage. Rosalind was the character I loved to hate; I was so appalled at her treatment of Lydgate and her disregard for their financial situation.
Ladislaw – When we first meet him in the book, he seems to be aimless and irresponsible. But he falls hard for Dorothea, and even knowing that she is married to his cousin and he has no chance, he determines to become a man worthy of her regard. Their love story was a wonderful thing to read, and I am so glad they finally ended up together.
Eliot’s writing – George Eliot writes beautifully. Her description of setting is flawless, and I can still picture the different places in my head. She also has a unique insight into human personality and I absolutely fell in love with her characters.
Did any of you read Middlemarch along with me? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section, or if you write your own post, please leave a link in the Mr. Linky so I can read it.