2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Makes heavy demands on the reader,
This review is from: Romola (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)`Romola' is a rich multi-textured novel, occasionally absorbing, but more often than not heavy going and obsfucatory.
George Eliot does not make things easy for her readers. She philosophises on her characters' actions and the circumstances in which they find themselves, but her style can be convoluted, so that one reads a passage without fully grasping its import. Then there is the period in which the novel is set: late fifteenth century Florence, where I found the prevailing political situation not conveyed clearly enough. Apart from a lack of understanding about historical events, I got no sense of Florence as a place. Eliot is not a descriptive novelist; characterisation is her strength and the two major protagonists, Romola and Tito Melema, come across vividly.
Eliot does not wear her learning lightly; there are passages in Italian and Latin; these, together with frequent textual references inserted by the editor, means that one could be constantly turning to notes at the end of the volume for elucidation.
The complex subject matter and Eliot's high flown literary style meant that I never really got to the heart of 'Romola'. Apart from hard core George Eliot fans, I cannot imagine anyone, apart from those studying it for an English Literature degree, wanting to read it.