Saturday 12 June 2010

George Eliot

I'm off to Coventry for a few days next week on a training course for work. I'm taking George Eliot - the Last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes and I've discovered that Mary Anne Evans lived in Coventry as a young woman. I do like a timely literary connection!

I've finished my re-read of The Mill on the Floss. Although not as perfectly constructed as Middlemarch it is beautifully written and who could not love Maggie Tulliver, the passionate and intelligent daughter of a mill-owner who longs for a cultured life. I enjoyed the conversations between Maggie's awful aunts - one penny-pinching, one extravagant and one who sits on the fence (surely some Austen influence there) and Bob Jakins clever sales pitch to Aunt Glegg when he flatters her into buying his damaged fabrics. The ending is foreshadowed throughout the novel and I won't give it away ... just keep a box of tissues handy!

I've read Silas Marner and Middlemarch but I'd like to read more Eliot when I've finished the biography. Any suggestions?


Study Window said...

'Daniel Deronda', without a doubt. I've chosen it as my book for one of my reading groups this year because there is so much to talk about in terms of the way in which both women and minority groups were viewed in that time. I would definitely recommend it strongly.

Steph said...

I haven't read any George Eliot, which I totally chalk up to her books being intimidatingly long. BUT I intend to rectify that! I think I'll tackle Middlemarch, because even if it is potentially her longest, I've heard it's her best. If I'm going to make such a lengthy investment, I want it to pay off! :D

potterjotter said...

On the back of the brochure accompanying the current V&A exhibition of "Quilts", they have wonderfully combined craft and literature with the following quote from Mill on the Floss: "Oh dear Oh dear Maggie, what are you thinkin of to throw your bonnet down there? Take it upstairs, there's a good girl, an' let your hair be brushed, an' put your other pinafore on, an' change your shoes - do, for shame; an' come an' go on with your patchwork, like a little lady." Brilliant!

Buried In Print said...

When I was setting out to read The Mill on the Floss, a reading friend responded by saying, "Oh, that's the one where ..." and proceeded to summarize the big event(s) in one simple sentence (you know what it would have been). Needless to say that made the story quite a different read than it would have been had I discovered that on my own. I figure that's contributed greatly to making me so spoilerphobic now! As for other Eliot, I've also read Adam Bede and enjoyed it a great deal as well.

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

I read Adam Bede last year and really enjoyed it. So that's my suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Lovely - I'm glad you're reading this and I look forward to your thoughts on it. I love reading literary bipgraphies and must read this one at some point. As Study Window has already said, Daniel Deronda is an absolute must - it's even better than Middlemarch in humble opinion!

Mae said...

I think The Mill on the Floss was the first Eliot I liked. I've previously read Silas Marner and The Lifted Veil, both which were a good read but it didn't do much for me. I think I'm going to take the advice from some of the comments here and either read Daniel Deronda or Adam Bede for my next Eliot.

Anonymous said...

I love The Mill on the Floss and am so glad someone else has read it this year!

I've enjoyed them all of Eliot's novels at one time or another, so no suggestions.

But Study Window is right about Daniel Deronda. A perfect novel!

Hannah Stoneham said...

What a lovely post - I like to have a relevant read in my hand bag when ever I travel - especially for work!

Laura said...

How is it we are always reading similar books? I'm just about to post a review of Adam Bede, which I enjoyed. Daniel Deronda is probably the better novel, but AB has it's moments. And I found the title character more likable than DD.

Anil P said...

I particularly liked Mill On The Floss. Long time ago it was, need to revisit it.

Vintage Reading said...

Study Window, thank you so much for the recommendation - Daniel Deronda will be on my autumn reading list.

Steph, Middlemarch is a challenge, but it pays off. I prefer The Mill on the Floss but I'm very fond of Middlemarch, too.

potterjotter, that's an interesting quote because Maggie replies to her mother that she won't do patchwork - she doesn't see the point of ripping things apart to sew them together again! I'd love to see that V&A exhibition.

Buried in Print, shame your friend spoiled TMOTF for you because once you know the ending that's it! Thanks for the Adam Bede rec it's going on my autumn reading list.

Thanks Joan - great to 'meet' Eliot fans!

booksnob, thanks for recommending this Eliot biog - I got stuck at Coventry station on Wednesday due to signal failure so I was able to sit and read for three hours!!

Mae, look forward to your Eliot reviews. I liked Silas Marner but I doubt if I'll re-read it.

Hannah, I never go on a journey without a book - I can't bear not to have something to read!

Laura, hi, we do have similar tastes (especially for Austen!). I'm going through an Eliot phase right now - not read AB yet.

frisbee, thanks - I enjoyed your TMOTF posts - I'm going to pick DD as my autumn Victorian novel.

Anil P, I think TMOTF is my favourite Eliot so far.

lyn said...

I think Middlemarch & Adam Bede are my favourite Eliot novels but her Scenes of Clerical Life are also very good. This was her first book, a series of three novellas first published in one of Dickens's magazines (I think) & there was much discussion & gossip as to who the author could be. The stories are quite sombre, but absorbing. As you can see, I'm reading back through your blog & enjoying it very much.