Middlemarch by George Eliot

Last Spring when everything closed down and we were all staying home I jumped on the Middlemarch bandwagon and started reading along with thousands of other people. I made good progress through April and May, but when my library reopened in mid-May I didn’t have as much time to read and stopped for a bit. Then we closed again in July and I was able to read big chunks of this Victorian classic while sitting at the curbside pickup desk waiting for patrons to pick up their holds. But as summer progressed I lost my momentum, though I only had 200 pages to go. I so much wanted to finish before the year ended but it didn’t happen. So, last weekend when I was feeling a bit under the weather I decided to complete the last 200 pages and finally check Middlemarch off my 15 year long “want to read” list.

And did I like it? Yes, very much! Like many readers, I felt an instant kinship with Dorothea Brooke and was most interested in her storyline. Yet, I did find the story of Lydgate and Rosamond to be such a fascinating insight into an incompatible and unsuccessful marriage. And, of course, I wanted to find out if Fred Vincy and Mary Garth would end up together. I love how all of their paths cross as they are engaged in their own pursuits – as they would in a real town.

I don’t have much to say beyond how much I enjoyed it because I think it is a book that is so full of wisdom and layers of meaning that I would need a re-read to absorb it all. But I will not be re-reading it soon! I am just so very happy to have crossed it off my list, though that is an unsatisfactory way of describing how I felt when I turned the last page. It is a simply wonderful book and one that will stay with me throughout my life.

Have you read Middlemarch? Is there another book you were so happy to have finally read?

9 thoughts on “Middlemarch by George Eliot

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Middlemarch…and I’m envious that you can read between customers at the library! Natalie Jenner, the author of The Jane Austen Society, presented me with the gorgeous clothbound Penguin edition of Middlemarch when she closed her bookshop a few years ago. We were good customers and she is a lovely person. Anyway, I’m looking forward to diving in one day and if this pandemic goes on for much longer I can’t think of a better time.
    One of my favourite memories of visiting Highgate Cemetery is coming upon George Eliot’s grave, dotted with cyclamen.

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    1. It was much easier to read between customers when we were only doing holds pickup but now that we are fully open it is harder – but I still try!
      So lovely of Natalie Jenner to gift you with a beautiful copy of Middlemarch. I chose her book for one of my library discussion groups to read this year and I’m looking forward to it.
      Highgate Cemetery is on my “one day” list – I will especially look for Eliot’s grave if I ever get there!

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  2. I used to read between customers at the reference desk on Project Gutenberg – I would never have got through Moby-Dick otherwise! I do love the short chapters in Victorian literature, so convenient. Last year I had just started Les Miserables before lockdown started, though I did much of it on audio while walking the dog. I’m very glad to have crossed both of those off my list and highly doubt I will reread either. I did read MM about 10 years ago and would love to reread it someday when my TBR shelf is a bit less full!

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