How does an ordinary reader begin to review George Eliot? But this is a small masterpiece and as it is short and easy to read, a good introduction to her more daunting works.
The tale of Silas Marner, the miser who loses his gold and gains a golden-haired child is heart-warming with none of the sentimentality that Dickens would have brought to the tale. Eliot can write about the rural working class and they live and breathe as real people; listen to the way the men talk in the village pub, the way kind Mrs Winthrop rambles around a subject. There is wry humour here and acute observation. Apparently, it was George Eliot's favourite of her own novels, though the way of life she describes had already been vanquished by the industrial revolution. Marner is a man bent and half-blinded by the machinery he works with; his bleak urban nonconformism has blighted his life. The neighbourly villagers are part of an old rhythm of English country village, not idealised but rooted in tradition and nature. (You can see Eliot's influence of Thomas Hardy.)
I had always thought of Eliot as a dry bluestocking but this short novel has urged me to try others. Highly recommended.