After finally finishing Middlemarch in April, there is simply no other choice for book of the month. Reading this book is a commitment but it’s poetic melodically paced prose is well worth your time.
April 2017 . Middlemarch . George Eliot
Changes Abound in a Provincial World
Originally published in eight parts from December 1871 to December 1872, Middlemarch is ultimately a story about change and how deeply it is resisted by inhabitants who cling to the polite rules of society and social mores of their time. It is also about relationships and just how archetypal they can be.
Dorothea is so young and hungry for knowledge, unlike her more superficial peers, including her own beloved sister, she cares deeply for humanity and wishes most of all to be of service. Levelheaded but still refused her due by her male associations. Her agreement of marriage to a much older, learned man becomes her biggest misstep in her ideological world.
Lydgate is a young idealistic doctor, just starting his practice in a new town. He is singularly focused and rigid in his views on women until he meets the beautiful Rosamond and learns what it is to be dismissed as the master of her wishes and behaviors. Rosamond is only concerned with her petty wants and needs and the discord in hers and Lydgate’s marriage resonates loud and clear through the years.
Bulstrode is the disgraced religious banker whose shady past comes back to haunt him in his present day ministry and threatens to upend the respectful persona he has come to perfect.
Mary and Fred are young lovers who dance around each other though they have long ago declared their love and preference of one another. Fred suffers from a severe lack of confidence and must grow to prove his worthiness to Mary.
These are the major players in a beautiful, well rounded, and heavily referenced story that is full of flawed characters acting out their lots in life in the only ways they know. All are victims of their circumstances and the time. When change does inevitably overtake them, each character sits at a crossroads of their own making. Some recognize the need to act and others do not.
Eliot finishes her masterpiece with a satisfying finale and reminds us all that what we think we know may be the furthest thing from the truth. The town of Middlemarch and its inhabitants are a microcosm of civilized society, the very one many of us live in today.
Recommended to anyone with maturity and a strong sense of commitment. This is one for your book collection but makes sure it gets read.
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