As of the writing of this review, I did not finish the entire novel, only the first download section.
Stevenson's narration was very good. She gave each character it's own voice and was able to convey some of the subtle humor.
What irked me the most about Middlemarch is that it is not a story solely about Dorothea, but rather a series of vignettes that concentrate on different characters that might only have an indirect connection to each other. Just when I was starting to get interested in what the fallout might be from Dorothea's marriage, the focus of the book shifted to new characters and I lost track of things completely. Part of this might because of the audio format, since with a physical book I'd be able to see where things picked up again, and where the new characters came from, but when I got to the end of the first download section and I had to make a decision as to whether to continue or not, I realized that I wasn't getting anything out of it except frustration.
If you like stories where characters talk about this and that with little or no bearing on the plot of the story, and you have an unnatural interest in the philosophies of Victorian England, this is great stuff. Elliot's characters talk about the rights of women, what makes a good marriage, there is even some mention of the science of the time. But if you want a good arc of a character, and you like a little action in your dialogue, this might not be for you.
There are some definite gems here, and I'll probably finish this sometime, because there's likely to be more. One part of the first section goes into the past of a doctor, who fell in love with a murderess. That was interesting, even though it didn't seem to connect with anything else. It was a lot like the story of the pocket watch in Pulp Fiction.
And in fact, putting aside that the conversations go on far too long to be enjoyable in their own right, the novel is a lot like Pulp Fiction, or more accurately like Slackers or Clerks. What you have is various situations set up that seem to exist for the sole purpose of allowing characters of different viewpoints to talk. Unlike those movies though, there isn't a shock to give punctuation to these dialogues, they just fade in and out like lights on a Christmas tree. Since a lot of the topics of conversation revolve around things that are rather antiquated by now, many of those lights of conversation have lost their luster.
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.
Seriously. Middlemarch is a fabulous book: thoughtful, inspiring, unique, and a good story at the same time.
Juliet Stevenson is the ideal narrator for such a long, dense novel -- there are a lot of characters, and a lot of philosophy, and she brings both of these things to life for the listener. In some ways, I found listening to her Middlemarch easier than when I read it on my own!
Eliot's nuanced characters and the psychological insights she provides into their actions, good and bad, are moving and thought-provoking. Although the society she writes about is long gone, she uncovers human truths that stand up to the present.
Witty, intelligent, captivating.
The whole book is filled with memorable moments, good writing, astute observations.
Juliet Stevenson is convincing and versatile. I couldn't stop listening!
Juliet Stevenson is an excellent narrator. Her pace was just right and her portrayal of the various characters, male and female, was superb. Would search out other audiobooks just for her narration.
Am about 3/4 of the way through, don't have a favorite scene yet.
Middlemarch has been on my "to read" list for a long time. Have also wanted to see the BBC adaptation, but wanted to wait and read the book first. Listening has been a great experience because of the story and the narrator. Wish I knew more about the history/politics of the setting, which I might have gotten through the notes when reading the book, but have understood enough to enjoy the story. Will go back and research later. Have been surprised at how funny some of George Eliot's dialogue is.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks and this one -- oh, this one is, unquestionably, the best.
Juliet Stevenson manages to make language that is forbiddingly inaccessible to many who attempt to sit down and read Middlemarch, amazingly vital and natural. Scenes that feature a bunch of old men talking about land grants suddenly become funny! She has an uncanny ability to create such a variety of distinct, emotionally realized characters, combined with an unparalleled mastery over incredibly difficult language.
I have to admit, I opened up a copy of Middlemarch after listening to this, and I was astonished. Stevenson's performance is so natural, accessible, and perfectly communicates the meaning and intention of the language, that I had no idea how difficult the book really was. A masterpiece of the English language - and an incredibly rewarding story, yes, yes - but it's Stevenson's performance that elevates this audiobook to a level of sublimity. I can't say enough good things about it.
Yes. Now that I've finished, I find myself missing it. The characters are so interesting. George Eliot really created a masterpiece. Juliet Stevenson captures the whole of this masterpiece - nuances of sarcasm, humor, and naïveté that other readers miss. I miss listening to it and miss Ms. Stevenson's various delightful voices.
The moment when Dorothea realizes she married a pompous, fluffbag. You feel the pain of her disenchantment so keenly. You really hope that something good comes to her after all her good intentions and thinking well of people.
I liked the voices she gave the different characters. I also love how she managed to pick up on the sub-text - there were times where I found myself laughing out loud, times where I felt like crying, and all the time I was fully entertained. I think this was only possible because of the very sensitive and complex reading she gave. I was listening to this on a very long roadtrip that I had to make by myself . . . I was actually very surprised with how well she kept me awake. Everyone told me what a boring, long read "Middlemarch" would be. Didn't feel that way at all.
Camden Farebrother. I feel like he would be super nice and we'd have a good conversation. I love Dorothea and I want to say her, but I think I'd feel intimidated by her.
I have read many a chick book and watched many a chick flick but after 2 hours I could not go any further. I may have rated the narrator better but I could not get past the book.