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Described by Virginia Woolf as "that magnificent book which, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people", George Eliot's 'Middlemarch' focuses on the beautiful and intelligent Dorothea Brooke, who is passionate about helping others and making something of her life. Keen to dedicate herself to someone she considers to be doing great work in the world, she accepts a marriage proposal from an ageing, didactic academic, the Reverend Edward Casaubon, whom she mistakenly thinks is about to produce his magnum opus 'The Key to all Mythologies' and hopes that she will be able to help him with his work. Casaubon, however, is a selfish and humourless pedant, who doesn't appreciate his wife, and whose research is now out of date, a fact that is mentioned in passing to Dorothea by Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's much younger artist cousin, who despite trying to control his feelings, finds himself falling in love with Dorothea - an attraction that does not escape the notice of the jealous and embittered Casaubon. And whilst Casaubon makes plans to thwart what he erroneously thinks are his young cousin's designs on his wife, we read of Doctor Lydgate, a young, ambitious doctor, keen to make scientific discoveries in the field of medicine, whose ambitions are frustrated when he marries the very pretty, but shallow and spendthrift Rosamund, and soon finds himself mired in debt; we also meet Rosamund's brother, the good-natured, but feckless Fred Vincy, who is in love with the admirable, no-nonsense Mary Garth (who, in some ways, is as much of a heroine as Dorothea) who refuses to accept Fred's proposal until he settles down and makes something of himself; and then there is the banker Mr Bulstrode - who, through his past misdemeanours, finds himself being blackmailed by the unsavoury Mr Raffles. There are, of course, many other characters and several subplots to keep the reader interested throughout the length of this marvellous 800+ page novel, but I shall leave the discovery of these for those who have yet to read it.

Originally published in serial form during 1871-72 (although set some forty years before that date) George Eliot's 'Middlemarch' is widely regarded as the author's masterpiece, and despite acknowledging the fact that this novel does have its minor flaws (as mentioned by certain well-regarded critics), I found this an involving and entertaining story which looks at marriage and misconceptions, status and social acceptance, aspirations and disappointments - and a whole lot more. I first read this novel many years ago and with this rereading feel I've derived much more from it and would certainly recommend the book to others - however, for busy people who might find the length of the novel a little daunting, do try the audio version: Middlemarch (available from Audible through Amazon) which you can listen to whilst getting on with other things and which is narrated by the actress Juliet Stevenson, whose well-modulated tones make this audio download a pleasure to listen to.

5 Stars.
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on 11 May 2016
This is without a doubt the longest single volume book I have ever read, and I wouldn't' have read it if it hadn't been one of the compulsory books for my Open University English Lit degree. However, once you get into the style of writing, it really is a very absorbing and entertaining read, which covers just about every aspect of life there is. Just a few examples of the plot lines/themes: village life, romance, money and debt, rural farming and the onset of the industrial revolution, art, science and religion, but all entertwined quite beautifully, with many recurring threads running throughout the story. The characters are well rounded and believable and the narration is quite entertaining almost a character in its own right. This book really is worth the effort and the time, as Eliot has so much to say on so many subjects, and this book really does deserve to be called a classic.
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on 8 July 2017
Have read this before but glad I took the time to read it again.
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on 24 March 2017
Best book ever. Buy it. Read it. Thank me later. :)
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on 12 June 2017
Technology and science may have developed. Human beings living in the 21st century are basically the same as they have been in Eliot's times. A must-read about life in general and particular for every women and men. Eliot still has a lot to say.
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on 19 March 2015
I enjoyed parts is the story much better than other parts. I thought it was too long and had a lot of padding that did not move the narrative along. Parts of Dorothea's life were very boring, but in the second half it was much more interesting. I thought the characters had strange names and some too similar to differentiate easily. It is a good story.
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on 3 August 2017
I do enjoy reading the classics but found this one hard going. I sometimes read them two or three times but, once is enough this time.
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on 19 February 2017
Excellent novel, beautifully written - tells you so much about relationships
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on 8 August 2017
Love this classic, just wanted to read it again!
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on 4 March 2016
Brilliant!
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