I loved this book. Trying to put it across in words is going to be difficult because there is just so many things I feel I want to say about this book.
The Mill on the Floss follows a little more than 10 years in the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver. We start when they are young, Tom 13 and Maggie about 9. So many things about the relationship between these siblings irritated me, mainly Tom’s faults it has to be said but Tom’s faults were redeemed by all things Maggie. Maggie is one of the best female protagonists in 19th Century literature – at least from what I have read. She is wild and free and, on the whole, is everything a good female protagonist should be.
This book is so many things but, ultimately, is about the bond between siblings. While I felt Tom had his faults, that is me as a 21st century reader. Tom is ultimately a good person who loves his sister but, as a product of a 19th century novel is often calling Maggie a “silly girl” and very often undervalues her. But Maggie is quite scandalous, really, and I imagine that when this was released there was quite a few raised eyebrows. George Eliot has shot up my list as one of my favourite authors because of this book, I can imagine her smirking behind her pen as she wrote some of this!
There is a bit of romance here, and I honestly haven’t rooted for a fictional couple as much as I did in this book for quite a long time. As it happens, it doesn’t go the way I wanted it to. Maggie emerges from it all a changed woman but nonetheless and incredible one who won’t let her opposition get her down.
If you want a happy or uplifting book, this isn’t for you. While the ending was in part disappointing, I don’t think it would have been right if it had finished any other way.