Monday, 29 December 2014

The Road to Middlemarch

I've read two charming biblio-memoirs this year.  The first was Joanna Rakoff's My Salinger Year and I've just finished Rebecca Mead's The Road to Middlemarch.  Mead is a New York based journalist who has read and re-read George Eliot's Middlemarch and found it resonates at different times in her life. She writes of her English childhood by the seaside, her academic years at Oxford , marriage and motherhood with Middlemarch providing a reliable source of sustenance through life's successes and failures. 

Mead is a perceptive literary critic and there is some delicious detail about the life of George Eliot in this memoir.  I didn't know that Eliot re-read all of Jane Austen's novels before embarking on Middlemarch which may account for the comic skewed dialogue between Dorothea and her sister Celia, particularly Celia's horror that her earnest and beautiful sister is going to marry the 'dried up husk' of an academic Casaubon who has reached the advanced age of fifty.  (Eliot was 52 when she wrote Middlemarch!) Best of all this book will make you want to re-discover George Eliot.

I'll wish you all a happy New Year and leave you with a lovely snowy quote from The Mill on the Floss:
Snow lay on the croft and river-bank in undulations softer than the limbs of infancy; it lay with the neatliest finished border on every sloping roof, making the dark-red gables stand out with a new depth of colour;  it weighed heavily on the laurels and fir-trees till it fell from them with a shuddering sound ...  The Mill on the Floss, 1860, George Eliot

15 comments:

Bellezza Mjs said...

Drat! I still haven't read My Salinger Year, and here you are with another fascinating review by the same author. Still, I thank you (of course) for the inspiration. It's always lovely to read your reviews, and see your comments Chez Bellezza. Happy New Year, Nicola!

Audrey said...

This was one of my favorites, but I didn't remember the bit about George Eliot re-reading all of Jane Austen! Happy New Year, Nicola! I'm looking forward to more reading with you next year. :)

Penny O'Neill said...

Wonderful post! My Salinger Year has been on my list for some time now with hopes of reading it sometime soon. Happy New Year year to you and yours.

Cornflower said...

I very much enjoyed My Salinger Year, and have had my eye on this book for a while so I'm glad to read such a positive review.
Happy New Year, Nicola!

Lory said...

I liked My Salinger Year, but My Life in Middlemarch (the US title) was one of my favorites of the year. And now I need to reread George Eliot! Happy New Year, and may your reading be ever rewarding.

Grad said...

I also have been wanting to read My Salinger Year. Maybe 2015 will be MY year to actually read it. I've also never read Middlemarch. I need to fix that! Happy New Year, Vintage!

Anbolyn said...

I've picked this up several times, but feel at a disadvantage because I have never read Middlemarch. I'd like to read it in 2015 then try the Mead book again. I hope you have a lovely 2015!

Nadia A said...

I've seen this book around, but wasn't so sure about it - especially as I have yet to read any George Eliot. However, after this post, I'm thinking that I need to read this one (I really loved My Salinger Year). I'm hoping it will encourage me to finally pick up Middlemarch :) Great post!!

SilverSeason said...

I didn't realize Eliot was 52 when she wrote Middlemarch. She certainly could not have written it at 22 or even, probably, at 32. It is a novel which embodies how we see things differently as life changes us.

cathy daniel said...

Happy New Year Nicola! Another lovely post - one day I shall get to grips with my ever-growing reading list. At the moment I feel like I am living in that scene from Mill on the Floss! xCathy

Katherine Cox said...

I'm reading Middlemarch for the first time right now but afterwards will definitely read Meads book. :)

Arti said...

I've read The Road to Middlemarch and really enjoyed it. That is, without first reading Middlemarch. But some day I just might. Too big a book to handle. So, kudos to Mead for keeping me interested in her book even though I haven't read George Eliot's. ;)

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Bellezza, I do like memoirs at the moment, hope you get a chance to read this.

Hi Audrey, yes nice to know Eliot admired Austen! Will be checking out your blog this year, too.

Penny, you must read My Salinger Year!

Cornflower, I think you will enjoy the Rebecca Mead, Karen.

Lory, I'm really getting into memoirs at the moment!

Grad, you must read the Joanna Rakoff!

Anbolyn, yes, I think you would get more out if it if you'd read Eliot first. Middlemarch is an undertaking though I've read it twice but not sure I could tackle it again - it's so long!

Nadia, My Salinger Year was just brilliant!

SilverSeason, yes it's the work of a mature woman at the height of her powers.

Cathy Daniel, yes TMOTF is a somewhat water-logged novel!

Katherine, I will look out for your Middlemarch post.

Arti, yes Middlemarch is possibly the longest novel I have ever read. Worth it though!

Terra said...

These two books are on my wish list, and I see we like some of the same authors. Today I posted about Anthony Trollope's wonderful Chronicles of Barsetshire series. I am following you on the bloglovin site.

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Terra will read your Trollope post, one writer I'm ashamed to say I've not yet read!