Buy on Amazon: Middlemarch by George Eliot
Finally. Finally after four weeks of reading I finish this novel.
So, in summary, this is what I gathered from the book, in it’s most stripped down form. This is a story about three couples – Fred and Mary, Dorothea and Ladislaw and Rosamund and Lyndgate. These six people live in a town called Middlemarch – and Eliot does not build a vague fictional town here, she details every last little thing down to pages upon pages of motives behind elections, decisions made and fainting spells. Every bit of gossip is laid out and every substantial movement of a main character dissected and looked at from all angles.
In short, this was the longest book I’ve ever read. And I’m sad to say I just did not like it all that much.
I often remarked to my family as I was trudging my way through this novel that, at times, it felt as if I was sitting and watching a snail decide which direction to move in. Now, don’t get me wrong – the characters were vibrant. They could have sprung off the page, full of life if Eliot (to borrow a Tolkien term here) had not the patience of an Ent. So. Much. Detail. Ugh. I cannot get over how long this book took to read.
I loved the Epilogue though (and for more reasons than it just signifying the end!) and I’m proud of myself for sticking it through and for grasping the story and understanding the significance of why she wrote it the way she did. It had to be done that way – the actual “action” in the book would have been disappointing on its own without all of the build-up. But instead of feeling a triumphant release at the ending I felt more a calm sigh of relief and had a “thank God” moment (both for it being the end and for getting what I wanted at the end of the book).
I would not have read this book if I hadn’t been involved in the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die challenge. And honestly, I’m dreading the next George Eliot I pick up, but at least I’ve armed myself with some knowledge and know how to approach it now. Bits at a time with plenty of action-filled books in between.