My first exposure to Middlemarch was as a teenager when my older brother read it to me. He was studying it at University and I was still in school. I loved it and the book became one of my favourite books after Pride and Prejudice.
Then I watched the BBC serialisation of Middlemarch when I was a bit older and it meant more to me and I loved that too.
But the Juliet Stevenson version is quite simply the one that was meant by George Eliot. It is masterpiece. I will treasure it for ever. The fact that one single human being can interpret the nuances of tone and texture of so many personas is remarkable. I am not sure who is the more remarkable artist; George Eliot or Juliet Stevenson. I fell in love with Juliet Stevenson when I happened upon a small English movie called something like deeply madly and I knew she was a star.
Sometimes a book can have a stronger impact on a reader because of where that reader happens to be in their life at the time that they read it. Had I read 'Middlemarch' when I was younger, I don't think I would have been as moved. I love a writer who creates complex characters who are forced to choose between following their own innate sense of right and wrong or live their lives bound by the demands of societal/religious dogma. The fact that Ms. Evans had to write under the pen name George Eliot because she was considered "too intellectual" speaks volumes.
Yes, I have already recommended it to my sister, who like myself has now gone soft and is an avid reader (whilst I prefer to listen due to to much time on PC at work).
I have 300+ books in my collection and love to safe 5 STAR Books in my "Audible Bank" to listen too when making my 12 hour journey back home from my work in Saudi Arabia.
I have just finished Middlemarch, and it is one of my prized assets in my "AB", and it will always be on my IPod to listen to again whilst stuck in the Airport.
I checked out Middlemarch on Wiki and could agree with:
“Virginia Woolf gave the book unstinting praise, describing Middlemarch as "the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." Martin Amis and Julian Barnes have cited it as probably the greatest novel in the English language”.
George Eliot’s prose is just fantastic and I marvel how she could use such language, which along with the superb narration by Juliet Stevenson made this an outstanding listen for me.
There are so many prominent characters in the book, (and on my first listen I just soaked upt the quality of the language and the narration), that I don't have a favourite character yet. Maybe I will when I listen to it again.
What I liked is the number of characters, the insight into their virtues, weaknesses, flaws, and how the landed gentry interacted with each other.
No, but I will certainly do what I do some of my other favourite 5 Star Listens (books I wait 5 mins in the car before going to the office and have marked down to read again), I will check out Books with the same narrator. This is what I like about Audible, the narrator can really make the book come to life.
The difference between this and the preceding Question is too subtle for me !!
My collection of Auible Books, which is very eclectic (Espionage, History, Thriller, Young Adult,Comedy, Biography, Military), is my one vice, and I am always happy to find a Gem like Middlemarch.
I have bought a number of Classic Books from Audible, and so far Middlemarch has been both the best and most enjoyable for me.
Middlemarch is somewhere near my all time favourites:
Tinker, Taylor Soldier Spy
Open (Andre Agassi)
If you like stories that take a very, very long time to develop, then, by all means, choose this book! It was not easy to do but I forced myself to hang in there but by mid-point of the book I just had to give up and call it a bad choice. The story just never took off --- a very, very slow read and way too much inconsequential narrative and detail. I really did not like the narration either --- it was as if she too was reading the book for the first time.
I have been a member of Audible for a couple of years but my last two book choices have been the worst! I received a credit refund last time and chose this book as my next choice. I'm on a losing streak!
Never cease to be amazed and enamored with Juliet Stevenson's reading...and with such exquisitely crafted prose it brought tears to my eyes during even the most mundane parts of the story. Not the most quest-filled adventure of all time to say the least, more of a dramatic slice of life, but it did have a beginning, middle and end that were most enjoyable ;-)
I read Middlemarch for the first time twenty-five years ago. I remember the first 100 pages were a bit of a slog, but after that I was hooked. Since then I have read it again twice and listened to it twice. Juliet Stevenson is the only reader I have ever heard whose performance adds, rather than takes away from, the profound insights expressed by the omnipotent narrator into the minds of her characters and the vivid portrayal of time and place, (1830's England). To quote Virginia Woolf, Middlemarch is "the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people."
While I could appreciate the exquisite turns of phrase and skillful use of the English language, I couldn't get into the story. I found my mind wandering, and I'd snap out of it and start listening again and wonder what happened while I'd "dozed off." Juliet Stevenson is an excellent reader, but even she couldn't keep me involved. I struggled along for several hours, but surrendered about a third of the way through.
Cannot speak highly enough of this extensive story, nor Juliet's reading. Indelible characters (and lots of them!). I saw this more as an exercise in applied philosophy than a novel. Moral dilemmas and human frailty are played out brilliantly.
George Eliot must be one of the most gorgeous prose stylists who ever wrote in English. Her psychological insights are astounding. But just looking at the many pages and the small print in the book itself is daunting -- so it's lovely to have it read to you by a first-rate reader.
I think the brilliant novels of Edith Wharton -- especially "The House of Mirth." But, because of the complex double- and triple-plotting, something by Dickens is probably the closest match. To me Eliot is superior to Dickens.
Stevenson is a superb reader, but I think her male voices are a bit exaggerated and often do not fit my visual image of the characters. Her female voices (surprise!) are the most effective. This temptation of readers to "act" everything out is often more of a distraction than an asset.
The entire saga of Dorothea Casaubon is a moving feminist statement, but Eliot carefully balances this with the saga of the young doctor, Tertius Lydgate. The plotting is amazingly good.
One of the great books in English. Belongs on a Top Ten list.