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"Silas Marner" by George Eliot

Silas Marner may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

Much shorter than Middlemarch, Silas Marner ironically takes a bit longer for the reader to become involved with the story. It starts almost too simply: Silas Marner, a weaver living in a religious community, is unjustly accused of theft, expelled, and becomes a recluse in another small village called Raveloe.

A little more than halfway through, however, one realizes what a great novel this is. With a slight turn of events, this simple story takes on grand themes of faith, trust, community, and love. It gathers more force perhaps because of its simplicity.

In order to make this story so refreshingly short, several times Eliot jumps over entire decades in a few paragraphs. This works wonderfully for the most part--it keeps the pace going and the plot tight and neat. True to Eliot's style, the characters are well drawn and supporting characters are given almost more face time than the title character. One sub-plot wanting for more detail, though, was that of sweethearts Godfrey Cass and Nancy Lammeter. Eliot describes in-depth both of their thoughts and actions through the first part of the novel, but after that much of their complex relationship is related quickly and without the absorbing detail of before.

Several reviews have suggested that Silas Marner is a good first Eliot novel. I disagree. Middlemarch, though long, is an encyclopedia of Eliot's talents. Once you read that, it makes the enjoyment of her other novels like Silas Marner much more satisfying.


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