June 28th, 2012


Book Review: Middlemarch, by George Eliot

George Eliot's "study of provincial life" is a complex, believable, immersive novel about a small town and the people who live in it.


Published in 1871, approximately 318,000 words. Available for free on Project Gutenberg.

Named for the fictional community in which it is set, Middlemarch is George Eliot's rich and teeming portrait of provincial life in Victorian England. In it, a panoply of complicated characters attempt to carry out their destinies against the various social expectations that accompany their classes and genders.

At the center of the narrative is Dorothea Brooke, a thoughtful and idealistic young woman determined to make a difference with her life. Enamored of a man she believes is setting this example, she traps herself into a loveless marriage. Her parallel is Tertius Lydgate, a young doctor from the city whose passionate ambition to spread the new science of medicine is complicated by his love for the wrong woman.

Epic in scope and unsurpassed in its study of human nature, Middlemarch is one of the greatest works of world literature.

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Verdict: So, either you like 19th century literature or you don't. If you do, you should love this book. The story is, perhaps, not particularly striking in terms of originality or plot twists, being your basic Victorian soap opera with a minimum of melodrama, but Middlemarch is a great multi-character drama with interesting characters. This was my first time reading George Eliot, and I've definitely added her to my list of authors to read more of.

My complete list of book reviews.