Review: Middlemarch – George Eliot

middlemarchI have wanted to read this book for a long time now and I decided that it was high time to get around to it before I went back to uni at the end of the month. The most off-putting factor about this book is the sheer enormity (the edition I was reading was 924 pages).

Middlemarch is a wonderful novel that has left me feeling somewhat bereft at ending it. It is a novel that spans such a wide frame that you as a reader are taken on a journey. My biggest issue with it is that there is quite a large level of predictability, which is annoying when it is a very slow paced book anyway – plodding away through several pages when you know how it’s going to resolve is frustrating.

The characters are well fleshed out, as you would expect over a 900 page novel. The initial difficulty I had with the novel is that there are so many introduced within the first 100 pages that it’s just dull. Over the course of the novel it becomes clear who are the key characters and then those others that were introduced we see develop through the eyes of the focal character. Even though she was naive, I really liked Dorothea in some ways – she was deeply flawed, idealistic and rather cold in her demeanour but I liked her. All the characters have flaws, none of them are perfect so that was a definite brownie point for Eliot.

I went in to this book with expectation. Virginia Woolf has cited this novel as one of the best ever written, so many people love it, I really though I would love it, and I just didn’t. It wasn’t hideous, it is a beautiful book but it just didn’t hit me in the gut the same with Silas Marner did and when I put it down, I really had to force myself to pick it up again. In reading it I didn’t get that profundity that so many people go on about after reading this book. It does pick up around the 50-75% point but… still I feel that I could have spent two weeks reading something better. I’m not giving up on Eliot, I think her writing is beautiful, I just didn’t have much patience for this novel once it actually got going. For that reason, I give it a 3/5 but with a promise to read it again in the future to see if it changes me opinion.