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George Eliot in Love [Hardcover]

Brenda Maddox

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Book Description

10 May 2011
An intimate and stirring portrait of the pioneering Victorian writer and thinker George Eliot.

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'[A] jaunty sketch of Eliot's life.' - The Guardian
'Here, we get a clear and absorbing sense of Eliot, not as public intellectual or thinker, but as a human being, silly, on occasion, like us.' - Telegraph
'This brief life is lively, compressed, fluent, sympathetic, and well-written.' - The George Eliot Review

Book Description

An intimate and stirring portrait of the pioneering Victorian writer and thinker George Eliot

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary woman. 18 Jun 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This was a bit dry for a biography. I am having a hard time putting my finger on what exactly was missing from this book, but it's possible the author was too emotionally removed from the subject matter. George Eliot (Marian Evans) certainly had enough loves and heartaches to make for a more engaging read. In fact, I'm tempted to go in search of a meatier Eliot biography at some point.

Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible, but I was expecting something more along the lines of Claire Tomalin's excellent 'Jane Austen: A Life.' This was not in the same category, in my opinion. Still, I would recommend this book for those seeking a short Eliot biography.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridget's Review 2 Oct 2010
By bridget3420 - Published on Amazon.com
George Eliot in Love is one of those books that you could read over and over again and not get bored. I love that George didn't live by society's standards. She was true to herself and that in itself is a great achievement. She's a strong, powerful woman who you can't help but love. Read this book, the writing is phenomenal!
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid Look Into A Private Life 23 May 2011
By Colleen T. - Published on Amazon.com
When I first requested this book on goodreads I thought it was a novel. When I received it and realized it was nonfiction I was worried I wouldn't like it as other nonfiction books based on the lives of authors (such as Becoming Jane about Jane Austen) I had trouble even finishing. They were dry and seemed to stick only to the facts which, while important for the type of work they were, did not stimulate my interest. This, in contrast, was very good! It read like a novel and was full of anecdotes that added to the joy of reading about the life of a woman that so many of us have heard of and even read but that we don't know much about her personal life (or at least this was my experience). She truly was a fascinating woman that seemed to go against the grain of contemporary standards on just about every level. She was widely considered to be ugly but highly intelligent and kind, she lived for 25 years with a married man as if they were actually married and she made an exorbinant amount of money in a time when many women did not seem to work outside the home. She was also very outspoken and highly learned in her nontraditional views of religion and science. Even with all of these forays away from the norm, she arose one of the most beloved and read contemporary novelists of her time. I am incredibly surprised there has not been more fiction written about her because her life is truly fascinating. A definite must read for biography lovers!
4.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic, Sensitive, and Enlightening Biography 16 Nov 2010
By Kathryn Atwood - Published on Amazon.com
In this sympathetic biography of the celebrated 19th century novelist, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), Brenda Maddox clearly presents the author and the creation of her books, some of English literature's most unforgettable.

Beginning with her childhood - her rejection by her mother and acceptance by her father - Maddox shows how Evans adopted a fervent Evangelicalism as a young woman only to lose it when befriended by some freethinking (some of them rather promiscuous) individuals. Promiscuity among 19th century atheistic intellectuals was evidently a reaction to the strict social and religious norms of the day but this opportunity for sexual freedom doesn't seem to have affected the unattractive Evans in any way but to increase her insecurity: she was yearning for love.

She finally found it when she took up a permanent, live-in relationship with George Lewes (who was technically married to a woman who was, in turn, living with another man). Lewes provided Evans with emotional security and a profound friendship that became a guiding light for her writing career: Lewes suggested that Evans - a talented and successful journalist -- begin to write fiction.

Lewes, as Maddox shows, was not only was the creative impetus for the great Victorian novelist but he also served as her emotional support and protector. For instance, Evans was terrified of reading any reviews of her own work and so Lewes constantly prevented her from seeing any. Even after becoming a wild success, gaining a measure of social acceptance in Victorian England (Evans and Lewes never officially married), and gaining reams of adoring fans, Evans still had difficulty believing in herself as a writer and couldn't begin - or finish - a new book without suffering from severe depression. With Lewes at her side, however, she was able to ultimately persevere.

Especially riveting for George Eliot fans are the sections of Maddox's biography which describe the creation of the novels: where Evans found the inspiration for each story's kernel, where she lived when she wrote each one, and what she - and others -- had to say about them as they came into being (many of them via serialization).

Utilizing reams of personal letters, which bring immediacy to the narrative, Maddox paints an unforgettable portrait of a complex woman -- equal parts talent and insecurity - who because she was so lucky in love, was able to write some of the greatest novels in the English language.
4.0 out of 5 stars Manly looking baby turns into a Great Writer 31 Oct 2010
By C. Wong - Published on Amazon.com
There is much to love in this little book. There is a love story that escapes the strictures of the Victorian times. George Eliot (Marian Evans is one of her many names) lived many years with George Henry Lewes who already had a wife and children. There are insights into her novels, Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch. The writing process for George Eliot was often torture, beginning with depression and ending with feelings of insecurity. When she was born with her father's coarse features, a large nose and a man's chin, even her father knew that it would be difficult for her to find a suitor when she grew up. He invested in education for her and that education and her own gentle intelligence later made her one of the most loved and best writers of England. I feel that Brenda Maddox wrote this biography with love. It would have been easy to be critical with George Eliot's decisions and fill the book with some of the nasty things written about her but instead she tried to be fair to the writer. In the middle of the book, there enough paintings and one photo to give readers a clear picture of what George Eliot lived with every day of her life. This book is richly detailed and actually a slow read but an enjoyable one. The strange thing is that I had the distinct feeling of intruding into her personal life, something that she and George Lewes protected furiously while living. I would recommend it to anyone who has reads George Eliot's writings.
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