Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I've been wanting to reread George Eliot's masterpiece, Middlemarch, for awhile now, so decided to read it along with the GoodReads Victorians group.  They provided a nice easy reading schedule that spanned six weeks, and it was a very enjoyable way to revisit an absolute favorite.

Here's what I wrote for my summation on the group chat (SPOILERS BELOW).

This is my 4th or 5th time reading this wonderful book, and I absolutely love it. It's been probably ten years since I last read it, and it's so rich and dense and beautiful that it was still fresh and endlessly interesting. 

I liked how you [Frances, a GoodReads moderator] summed up the three threads as comedy, tragedy, and drama.  Fred and Mary were comic, Rosamond and Lydgate were tragic, and Dorothea and Will were romantic.

I adore Fred and Mary also--I know there is a big contingent out there that say that Mary should have married Farebrother because he "deserved" her, but Fred earned her respect and always had her love. I loved the glimpse the narrator gave us of their life together, growing older, comfortable and happy.

Lydgate and Rosamond are a tragic couple. His big, tender heart could never touch her tiny, cold one, but in the end, he did the right thing and sacrificed his ideals and ambitions to fulfill his end of the marriage contract.

Dorothea and Will are such a romantic couple, and Dorothea is one of my all-time favorite characters. In her sorrow and trouble, she never stopped trying to help others. Going to see Rosamond after witnessing the scene between Will and Rosamond was heroic and selfless and so admirable.

And that closing paragraph--it is magnificent and neatly encapsulates what Eliot was going for in Dorothea, her modern St Teresa:

But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Things are not so ill with you and me because people like Dorothea quietly and persistently try to make the world a better place.Finally, I think the narrator is one of the kindest, most sympathetic in all of literature. She is sort of like Mr. Garth himself--admiring those who work and are busy with business, but forgiving and tender-hearted and willing to help her poor, dear characters find their way in the world despite their weaknesses and follies. Everyone has a story, and those stories have light as well as shadows, and everyone's story is worth telling.

This brings my Back to the Classics reading challenge for 2016 up to seven completed.  Not great, but not bad either.


  1. I read this for the first time over the last year. It was truly a great book.

    I agree with your summation. The relationships depicted in this book are brilliant.

    I am currently reading The Mill on the Floss. Thus far I find it very good, but not as good as Middlemarch.

  2. I love Dorothea as a character; she was so passionate and real to me. I am also super impressed that you have read this huge book more than once! I need to see if I can get it on audio. That is my preferred way of revisiting longer books.

  3. Middlemarch is my favorite Eliot novel, and Dorothea is one of my all-time favorite literary heroines. (I really like Will, too!) Just reading your post makes me want to reread this book. It's such a good one.

  4. I would love to make sure I read several "chunksters" in 2017 and this one is high on the list!