Over theyears, I've started the book many times and, though I loved it, never got past the first 100 pages. This reading took me back to my childhood and the complete absorption I often found in books. Thanks to George Eliot and Juliet Stevenson, the couple weeks I spent in Middlemarch were passionate, amusing and filled with profound observation of human thought and behavior. I'll think on Dorothea and her circle for some time to come.
Juliet Stevenson did a superb job with everything from pace to voices to her ability to read in multiple languages. I'd look for her again.
Middlemarch by George Eliot was definitely not what I expected. I assumed that it might be somewhat Avant-garde, and maybe it was at the time. It was unusual for a woman to be an author at that time, hence the pen name George Eliot taken by Mary Ann Evans. In 2014, however, the book would not be considered eccentric or Avant-garde. It reminds me a lot of books written by Louisa May Alcott, who was born about twenty years after Evans.
Middlemarch, as a novel, was very long and from another period in time. It was enjoyable, but also a bit overwhelming. After listening to the 35+hour audio book, I have to admit that I liked Middlemarch and all of its citizens. I came to understand and like all of the main female characters: Dorothea Brooke, Mary Garth and Rosamond Vincy, in particular. Their stories of love, disillusion and resolution are universal. The political and societal changes that were beginning in Middlemarch were also occurring in England and beyond. Other themes also occurred throughout the book.
I would highly recommend reading My Life in Middlemarch either before or after reading Middlemarch. It really gave me a better understanding of the significance of Eliot’s writing and of Middlemarch itself. I do intend to do some more reading on Eliot and Middlemarch. I found a graduate paper titled: “Louisa May Alcott and George Eliot on Class, Gender and Marriage”, written by Elizabeth Michelle Meyers in December 2010. I’m going to read it, because I think it will be an interesting read and may help me better understand the works of both authors. I’m sure there are other sources that would be equally valuable. For me, just listening to Middlemarch was not enough. I’ve gained a lot from going beyond the book itself, and my journey is not over yet.
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.
I am so grateful I picked this edition: I am now a diehard Juliet Stevenson fan. I was already a George Eliot fan but after Middlemarch I think "fan" is too light and fluffy a word. Taking a break from Eliot for awhile, the experience was so intense (and rather long) but the next book I chose I chose from Stevenson's performances. It is not just her voice but her intelligent reading of the text. Cannot say enough good things about either this book or this reader.
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.
Story wasn't very interesting...boring
No...just couldn't connect with this book..
The accent did not enhance the book
not right away,
I wouldn't get through it without it's being read. Stevenson reads beautifully. Great handling of voices. Very clear, very alive.
Lots of memorable characters. Dorothea is of course the main character, but I found the doctor and his wife even more interesting and touching.
Near the top
It's rather like choosing which part of a quilt keeps me warmest, the book has many memorable moments and is very difficult to single out just one.
I love that you ask about Ms. Stevenson's "performance", rather than her "narration". I have not listened to any of her "performances", but I most certainly will. It is utterly amazing to think that such a fine performer would undertake a labor of recording such a lengthy work. It is a testament to the importance of elocution for an actor. Stevenson's ability to create, and maintain, believable "voices" for different characters in the book is absolutely astonishing. She even has a knack for creating a voice for an old man and a younger man. Her portrayal of old, befuddled Brooke is amazing and quite comic. Listening to her, one realizes the talent and skill which contribute to fine acting. Watching performances, great actors make the creation of characters seem so effortless. When one listens, one focuses simply on the vocal skill of the actor, which in the case of Stevenson, is so very gifted.
Oh yes, I laughed several times and sometimes it brought a tear to my eye. Eliot's prose is some of the finest written. Also, she was able to create such very likeable characters.
I am finding that I am choosing audiobooks not only for the content, but for the quality of the narration. To have accomplished actors such as Stevenson "perform" a book of this quality is an experience not to be missed. It's an art form unto itself.