Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
After the first of its eight sections I read this wonderful Victorian classic slowly, usually savoring just one chapter a day until I sped up at the very end. It’s a pace that imitates the serial way it was released, though Middlemarch was actually published in the eight “books” it’s divided into not the individual chapters of each “book.”
I can highly recommend the leisurely approach. Reading just a little every day kept me interested, engaged, and appreciative of the especially rich text, full of insightful commentary, trenchant thoughts, and germane asides, while still allowing me to keep track of the large cast of characters and their interconnecting stories. Each chapter was a highlight of my day so I feel (temporarily, I hope) at a loss now that I’ve finished the book.
Of the novel's many threads the most prominent involve idealistic Dorothea Brooke, who against the advice of everyone marries a dried up religious pedant of a man thinking he will lead her to a life of meaning, and Tertius Lydgate, a doctor with great plans for doing good who traps himself in a marriage that foils all his dreams.
Before starting Middlemarch I mistakenly thought it was a depressing novel of thwarted love and ambition, but that’s far from the case though it does address serious issues that include marriage, religion, political reform, the expectations of society, and the status of women. The book ends with a realistic mix of poignancy, happiness, and hope, not unmitigated tragedy.
What I maybe treasure most about the novel is how sympathetically it is written. There are villains of a sort, vapid selfish Rosamund, mean spirited Mr. Casaubon and hypocritical Mr Bulstrode, and there are certainly characters that make very bad decisions, like Lydgate and Dorothea, but George Eliot writes with such level-headed sensibility and understanding that their troubles touched me and I couldn’t condemn or belittle any of them.