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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rustic realism
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...
Published on 30 Oct 2009 by booksetc

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3.0 out of 5 stars Silas Marner
Despite it being a lovely story I felt it quite boring in places. Much preferred Mill on the Floss. 3
Published 7 months ago by Teresa Jewett


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rustic realism, 30 Oct 2009
By 
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Love, 20 Feb 2010
By 
Silvanus (North West England) - See all my reviews
Once again, George Eliot (AKA Mary Anne Evans) brings us a gripping tale of country folk at the turn of the 19th century. The historical detail is fascinating in itself, but this is a truly touching story of one man's redemption through the love of a good woman. Silas Marner finds new meaning in his life when he undertakes the upbringing of a little orphan girl. The denoument is nicely prepared as we the reader are aware of certain information which is unknown to the two main protagonists!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little masterpiece, 14 May 2012
By 
Stracs "Stracs" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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Whilst I love George Eliot's work as a rule, I had put off reading Silas Marner. The premise of the book (the social exile brought back to a full life and acceptance by his community through his adoption of an orphan child who appears on his doorstep) sounded a bit twee to me, a bit too sentimental for my liking.

I am happy to hold my hands up and admit that I was utterly wrong. Silas Marner is a little masterpiece. Compared to Middlemarch, it is a short and simple tale, yet it retains all the of elements which are most recognisable and admirable about Eliot's work - her simply breathtaking ability to write prose, fully developed and humanised characters, wonderfully vivid portraits of the simple rural life and community sadly now lost, and compelling exploration of morality and religion without the reader feeling they are being preached at. I enjoyed Middlemarch immensely as I could recognise it as a massive achievement literature, but it has not captured a place in my heart in the way that The Mill on the Floss and now Silas Marner have.

Some might feel that the plot is a bit thin and sentimental but for me this not the case. If you think more deeply about the book an enormous amount takes place not as just events driving the plot forward, but under the surface of the story. The characters undergo extensive development over the long years portrayed, yet Eliot handles this change and development so subtly and deftly that the reader hardly notices it happen. This has the effect of making the changes the characters undergo utterly believable - it is after all what happens to us all every day. Whilst the plot has a touch of the fairytale about it, I believe this was a stylistic choice on behalf of the author as a means of exploring the deeper themes of human character, community, religion and morality which she wanted to convey. The book never feels sentimental or unbelievable as one might expect from a pseudo-fairytale, which is testament to Eliot's great skill as an author.

What the story has made me do, and I am sure it will others too, is to really think about what it is that one values most in life, how we judge other people who do not on the surface appear like ourselves and how we should perhaps accept the hand that is dealt us in life rather than fighting against it as this may ultimately lead to greater happiness. Silas Marner is a book which will stay with me and which I will return to throughout the years not just because it was an enjoyable story which I could not put down whilst reading, but also because for me it is one of those books which has really taught me something about who I am and how I approach my life. What greater testament could there be to the skill of an author than this?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply delightful, 17 Jan 2011
I knew this book already and simply wanted to have my own copy. This book is easy to read and - if you are an old romantic like myself - it will transport you back to the England that was in a very touching story about an old miser who is forced to realize that he has a heart. I wouldn't add anything else, in order not to 'spoil' the story - just read it, it's a wonderful classic.
The only other thing I would add is that the service from Amazon was nothing short of excellent, as always!
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small literary masterpiece., 15 Jan 2002
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
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Newspaper readers were invited recently to submit their choices for the greatest works published in the English language. When the choices were totalled, two works by Shakespeare featured in the top ten. Also featured, I was pleased to see, was a novel by George Eliot. Internet users, familiar with her works, will probably guess which of her novels was chosen. For those unfamiliar with her works, the best one to start with is "Silas Marner", a much shorter one. It is short, it is easy, it even works well in schools (as I can testify), and yet it is undoubtedly a masterpiece.

George Eliot sets her 1861 novel in the early decades of the nineteenth century in rural England. Silas Marner is a weaver. In the pattern that life weaves, he usually features as a victim. Because he is unjustly "framed", he loses his reputation and his betrothed in the town where he grew up. After years working as a weaver and living like a hermit in a rural district then, he is robbed by an unknown thief who uncovers and makes off with the cache of gold guineas Silas keeps under his floor. Happiness and joy come to Silas, however, and at the end of the novel he is told, "Nobody could be happier than we are".

George Eliot tells her tale with a mixture of womanly sympathy, sharp observation, tact, and humour. Her depiction of a long-gone past, and her clear pointing of right and wrong impulses, give the story qualities that are sometimes found in morality plays or in fairy tales. Don't skip over the scenes in the local inn, the Rainbow, where the simple-minded rustics discuss relevant issues, including the existence of ghosts.

For those who appreciate hearing good literature read aloud, I recommend the unabridged audio format of "Silas Marner" where the reader is Andrew Sachs. As you might expect of this fine English actor, who made Manuel from Barcelona so memorable in "Fawlty Towers", he is especially wonderful in portraying the argumentative, credulous, muddle-headed rustics that foregather at the Rainbow. His reading extends for nearly seven hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pay for Proper Formatting, 20 Jun 2011
This is how a Kindle fomatted book should look: well presented and easy on the eye. Don't waste your time on free downloads that are cobbled together with no attention to detail and littered with errors. I tried lots of samples and settled on this Signet edition. I wasn't disappointed. It's still cheap, but I think it's worth paying a little in order to get a proper reading experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction, 17 Mar 2011
By 
DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK)) - See all my reviews
This was the first George Eliot book I read and I enjoyed it sufficiently for me to want to read a lot more of her stuff, even though the blurb described it as her "most popular book". It's not too long and the plot moves on reasonably quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful crafted, fable-like, redemption story with real humanity. A mini masterpiece, 23 Jan 2009
What a gem of a novel, it's really a fairy story or myth about loss and redemption, how a working class man falls into the love of gold only to lose everything and find himself again through adopting a baby girl. The ending is a reverse Cinderella where the girl's upper class father tries to take her back and she refuses him.

As a piece of myth making this is a very strong story, but what really makes it special is the brilliance and sophistication of the prose. This is genius at work with an incredibly deft hand. Nothing here is accidental and it feels as though every phrase, reference, name, character and action is linked to the book's wider themes. The people and set pieces are delightfully observed, funny and wise and the rise and fall of emotion is sensuous. I honestly don't know where anyone learns to write like this.

Some readers might say that 'not much happens' or that there are long periods of description. I think this is mistaken, an enormous amount takes place in this book but Eliot is low-key about events and focuses on the feelings of the characters, leaving the descriptions as clever and and funny pen portraits into a way of life that give warp and weft to the story.

This is right up there with my best ever books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good will prevail, 19 Sep 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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George Eliot, born Marian Evans in 1819, spent most of her early life in rural Warwickshire. This early upbringing is apparent from her easy comfort in writing about country settings, with attention to detail and niceties that a born-Londoner would generally not be able to provide. Eliot's life was not that of the typical Victorian lady; she worked in publishing, including periodicals, translations, and writing her own fiction. Eliot led a 'colourful' life; living in a common-law marriage with Lewes, a man who left his wife and children for her, she then married after his death a man twenty years her junior, only to die eight months later.
In this novel, Silas is a weaver, a rather grumpy and sour man, whose primary occupation and avocation is the making of money. He is an outsider in Raveloe, having been driven from his earlier community under the false accusation of theft, an accusation that also cost him his engagement to his beloved, and left him with little faith in human nature, particularly that of the church-ly humans.
The high society in Raveloe reached the pinnacle in the Cass family. Squire Cass had two sons, Godfrey and Dunstan, each his own unique form of scoundrel. Godfrey, who had an illicit marriage to a local barmaid Molly, is being blackmailed by his spendthrift brother Dunstan. Alas, Godfrey is expected to marry another, Nancy Lammeter, daughter of another society family. Godfrey attempts to buy off Dunstan with his horse, Wildfire, and during a journey to sell the horse Dunstan accidentally injures and kills Wildfire.
Dunstan is stranded in the countryside, but sees light from a cottage -- the home of Silas Marner, reputed after fifteen years of weaving and miserly activity of having accumulated a large stash. He steals the bags of money he finds in the deserted cottage, and disappears into the night.
Silas reports the theft, but is unaided. He is heartbroken, for his life's purpose has been the accumulation of this wealth. No one seems to make the connexion between the lost money and the disappearance of Dunstan (one flaw in the novel, in my opinion). Silas gradually recovers from this blow, and the people of Raveloe begin for the first time to see him in terms of friendship.
At a Christmas party, the Cass family is in full celebration, for the upcoming marriage of Godfrey and Nancy. However, Nancy is not pleased, given Godfrey's reputation. Later in the holiday season, Molly makes her way to the Cass estate and confronts Godfrey with a two-year-old daughter in tow. Upon her return from the estate, she falls and dies in a drunken, drug-induced stupor, and the child wanders through the snow to the cottage of Silas. Silas lays claim to the golden-haired child, and Godfrey is relieved to be free from Molly and paternity.
Sixteen years pass, and we come to meet a very different Silas, one who is now a truly human being, who is loved, and has an object of love in his daughter Eppie. Eppie is in fact about to be wed to the nice Aaron Winthrop. Godfrey and Nancy, however, have had a loveless and childless marriage.
Things develop rapidly near the end of the novel. A pond near Silas' cottage is drained, and the remains of Dunstand with two bags of gold coins is found. Godfrey feels compelled to tell his wife now everything, how Dunstan dishonoured the family, how he (Godfrey) was being blackmailed, and admits his paternity of Eppie. Nancy is strangely tolerant -- she only complains of not having been told sooner. They decide to demand that Eppie be returned to them.
In a beautiful scene of compassion and love, Eppie, given the free choice of deciding between Silas and connexion with the noble Cass family, opts for the man who was her true father, and chooses to remain with Silas.
Later, Silas and Eppie revisit Lantern Yard, from which Silas was expelled so many years before. Here in no longer the old church, his old home, or his old friends -- all has changed; life has gone on. The old place is dirty and noisy by comparison to the serene Raveloe. The question of Silas' guilt or innocence cannot be resolved, but then, is no longer a question of concern for anyone in either place. Eppie then marries Aaron, in a wedding paid for by Godfrey, who cannot attend due to business, and Eppie declares in the end that 'nobody could be happier than we are.'
Elliot intended to show that misfortune can lead to greater things, and provided a typical Victorian happy ending.
This novel has been a traditional one assigned to students of secondary school age for decades now; it is a classic, fairly simple in construction and vocabulary, and brings up the timeless themes of good, evil, fate, and has a wide range of characters who change over time. Alas, many school-age readers come away cold, often determined never to read another novel again, as it is presented poorly and not put in a more modern context which students will more readily understand. But, it remains a good story, and a fine representative of the Victorian novel.
This particular editions contains many extra pieces of commentary, notes and other study aids that will be helpful to the student trying to understand the text, the motivations of the characters, the world context of the story, and different ideas of interpretation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars i was whisked away by this adult fairy tale, 3 Mar 2001
By A Customer
silas marner is a truly wonderful book, a fairytale of an old lonely man cast out of his home into a fairytale village where he is ignored. although the book has quite a complex language it is a simple plot with many twists. a truly enjoyable book.
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Silas Marner
Silas Marner by George Eliot (Audio CD - 12 Mar 2009)
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