Kathryn Hughes' excellent new biography of the woman who became one of the most appealing of Victorian sages has, at its heart, a sense of just how scandalous George Eliot was in her day and how much courage and nervous energy she had to expend in living a life by her own rules. Hughes suggests, convincingly, that this energy is heavily paralleled in the virtue shared by her most attractive central characters, a capacity to endure and stand by righteousness. And there is also a capacity to feel pain--Hughes attaches this, but not reductively, to the rejection of Eliot by her family for her apostasy to freethinking agnosticism from the Evangelical Christianity in which she grew up.
Eliot's has always been a powerful story because she achieved intellectual independence as well as artistic success in a society loaded against her by propriety and sexism; Hughes does it full justice. --Roz Kaveney
Praise for Kathryn Hughes’s previous work:
‘Seriously scholarly yet nonetheless accessible to the general reader… fascinating.’
Margaret Forster, Sunday Telegraph
‘Hughes has an acute ear for social nuance.’