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Review: "Middlemarch" by George Eliot

Middlemarch is available for free download from our ebook catalog.

Middlemarch is one of those books that was born to be read as an ebook. This sounds strange to say about a book that was written over 100 years ago, but it's true. I had tried reading this in pbook--a hefty and intimidating 900-page thing--several years ago and didn't make it though the first few chapters.  Just keeping the book open to the right page took considerable effort. On ebook, there is no heft to tow around, no stack of unread pages to intimidate you. If you set up your ereader properly, you don't even notice how far you've read or still have to go. You can revel, unhindered, in Eliot's beautiful prose for days on end. For I won't lie, days and days, possibly weeks it will take you to read this.

Upon finishing, you might even feel you need to read it over again, which was my feeling. I felt lost for much of this book, particularly the beginning where Eliot introduces a large amount of characters. She does not skimp on details, so one is inundated with particulars about everyone and everything. I feel that I could give this book several reads and still never catch everything that is of importance. I again realized the need for a re-reading while watching the 1994 BBC adaptation. There were so many scenes, particularly dramatic ones involving Dorothea and Ladislaw, that I didn't fully understand in the book. I didn't catch a certain innuendo, implication, scandalous look or touch. This is why there can sometimes be a reason for seeing the adaptation first.

My ineptitude as a reader aside, I found Middlemarch's characters absolutely delightful. Even the characters we aren't supposed to like--Bulstrode and Casaubon, even Raffles!--are written with such a multi-faceted personality that you can't completely categorize them as good or bad. Brooke and Ladislaw quickly became my favorites, the first for comic relief and the latter as the tortured, Byronic hero. In the film adaptation both of these characters were superbly cast. We have discussed our love for Rufus Sewell (Ladislaw) and his casting possibilities on other posts. Here is where we discovered him, and he is wonderful.

To conclude, if you feel inclined to pick up this tome, take your time with it. Don't feel guilty if you want to watch the film adaptation first. And if you've tried before and never got through it, try it on ebook!


  1. JaneGS says:

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