This book was part of my A-Level syllabus, and had it not been for that, I would doubt that I would ever have read it. Why? Its just about the longest book on the planet! It wasn't until I read it for the second time that I fell in love with it and I recently revisited it when I was off sick from work, always the perfect opportunity to spend time with a book.
Middlemarch by George Eliot, was originally written as a series, which explains its length. I think it probably works best in this format and is best to read as such, as it really does seem interminable at times.
Based around the townspeople of Middlemarch, the book follows the stories of several people, mainly couples and their trials and struggles though life. The theme is love and the effects money, standing in society and mismatched other halves have on their relationship and those around them.
Central couples include Mrs. Casaubon and Will Ladislaw, Rosamond and Mr. Lydgate, The Garth family and a few other characters that interweave among everyone.
Each relationship is completely different, each with its own trials and successes. Set in England in the early 1800s, standing in society plays an enormous part in people's lives, where scandal is the talk of the entire village and shady characters and secrets are aplenty.
There is so much detail in the book that I can barely begin to discuss it without revealing too much about the storylines that interweave and entangle themselves throughout. I will say that the length of the book should not be a deterrent and it really is an excellent read. George Eliot skillfully pulls you into each character, giving great depth and insight into their thoughts, so that at times, you don't know who's side you should be on. By half way through, you feel as if you know some of the characters intimately, while others remain a mystery until their role in the plot is finally revealed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Why: At times, I felt George Eliot rambled on somewhat unnecessarily. Coupled with the old style of writing and speech, it was sometimes difficult (for me at least!) to fully understand what exactly she, or should I say he(!) was trying to say. The length is a little annoying and wearying at these parts, but otherwise not an issue as there is enough to keep your attention rapt and ensure you continue to read. Defintely worthy of its status in Classic Literature.