Monday, May 25

my last read

Well that was a usefully long Dark Moon..... and what lovely comments to return to as well.

So I finally finished The Mill on the Floss. It took me TWO. MONTHS.
I was beginning to despair but then read The Time Traveler's Wife and finished it in a week (similar post to follow). So this is really my second to last read.

"Childhood has no forebodings; but then, it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow." MotF

Two things have aligned to make the smoother reading possible. Firstly, the Wildflower and I slowly snuggled our way into a natural daily rhythm that has now been enhanced by her calmer disposition and ability to entertain herself. Secondly, the warm weather has meant outside time. Most of the day is spent on the terrace instead of indoors. This is something that not only makes me happy, but has always made her happier. She is content to read her books or play with her toy animals or the potting soil, while she spots birds, butterflies, and the wind through the trees. We exchange babblecomments about what we see, what she's doing.

"...no sound or motion in anything but the dark river that flowed and moaned like an unresting sorrow." MotF

If you enjoy the classics and have never read, or read very little, George Eliot, I recommend you try her.

"Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart." MotF

The Mill on the Floss began slowly for me, too slowly for my liking. I grant that having so few chances to read may have compounded the feeling. But the first quarter of the story was just so-so for me. The other aspect that troubled me was reading regional accents. I find this laborious. A word here and there is all I need, not almost every word in a character's speech. However, the first part of the novel is critical to understanding the small-town social and political atmosphere.

"Mrs. Glegg paused, for speaking with much energy for the good of others is naturally exhausting." MotF

On to the good stuff....

While Jane Austen is lace and tea admist neighbourhood gossip, George Eliot is grit and pain admist the daily grind. Austen has a sharp wit and sharp eye for character nuances. Eliot however, is a master at deeper insight, imho. It is absolutely delicious to enter into the motivations behind a character's thoughts and behaviours. I find that Eliot laser-beams right to the core, every time. I only compare the two author's because Austen is so much more popular and I know many haven't delved into Eliot or were put off by having to study Silas Marner at school.

Eliot's observations also make for very well-fleshed out characters. At least for the three central ones. Maggie, our leading lady, is multi-layerd. We know her, we love her, we feel her moral and romantic pains. This novel is also semi-autobiographical, which makes her childhood experiences particularly intriguing.

As for the tale, without spoiling it for you, I will simply say, that Maggie doesn't expect to be happy, she doesn't feel that she deserves happiness. And so life plays out her belief for her.

I didn't enjoy it as much as the soap-opera of Middlemarch, but Eliot always brings the beauty of rich characterization into my life.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review Mon. I haven't read any George Eliot. I may delve into it one day. But The Time Traveller's Wife is next on my list, suggested by docwitch. Did you enjoy it?

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  2. I'll post about that one next - but.... not so much.

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  3. I always found George Eliot a little tedious - like I was reading a classic, you know? Instead of a good book that just happened to have been written a couple of hundred years ago. But I have some of her works in my home because I want my dd to know them years before I did, which may make the difference.

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  4. I find Eliot incredible. She does offer those deeper insights, and with a great compassion. It doesn't really do to compare her to Hugo, but there is a resonance there for me. I think so many people find her not as palatable as the easily (and widely) consumed Austen. Certainly not as 'pretty', but that can be a good thing. I have a very soft spot for The Mill on the Floss. I dig Eliot's women.

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  5. Fun review! Add this to my list of "reading gaps" :-)

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  6. I have to admit that I haven't really read any Eliot. When I did Lit in Sweden we concentrated mostly on the Greek, Russians and French with just a teensy bit of English thrown in for good meassure. Always meant to make up for it on my own time and still haven't, tut tut.

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  7. I read Silas Marner a few years ago... I think when I was pregnant with Mica. I hadn't read any George Eliot before either.

    Of course, I had no idea at the time how appropro the book would be for me, as the premise of the book is an old miser who unexpectedly becomes a father to an orphaned child. I was so surprised to read about unconditional love and his choice NOT to punish her. It reminded how there are always radical ideas beyond the mainstream ones, and reminded me of the power of literature to bring those ideas to the people, and to record them for future generations.

    Plus, I always love reading classics because then I start, ever so subtly, talking and writing in that old-style cadence. :)

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  8. Oh yes, I hadn't thought of that Stacy. Unconditional love. I read Silas Marner some 20 years ago. Fortunately not for school.

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