The narration of this classic novel was so wonderful. Juliet Stevenson is a great character actress and she plays all of the myriad large and small roles to perfection here. This is one of the greatest novels in the English language, and she does it justice. Brilliant!
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)
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."
Exquisite x 3
The story is wonderful, multi-layered, intriguing. But what's best is the writing and the observations on human nature and instinct. Completely on-target, relevant in today's world, profoundly insightful and sophisticated. I wanted to quote this book all the time.
I'd have to say Mr. Brooks and Rosamund were brilliantly captured as comic roles.
Of course, the hero, Dorothea. A thoroughly modern woman; intellectually and emotionally open and generous.
I resisted reading this all my life because it
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
While there were others that I read concurrently, for the past three months, I labored to finish this book. I did not finish reading it but I believe that I am finished trying to. This is not a short book but that was not the issue. I like long books. In fact, I generally prefer them but they must or I must have them engage my interest and imagination. Unfortunately this was not to be with Middlemarch. Maybe because I feel I am running out of it, I take time very seriously and books of this length require an investment. This was just not one I was willing to make that investment in.
There is a great deal to recommend about Middlemarch. A large cast of characters populate several plots with themes that are of interest to me personally: religion of which I subscribe to none, politics of which I have a love/hate relationship (especially the politics of medicine), philosophy which never ceases to intrigue and education which is my vocation. Virginia Woolf had high praise for Middlemarch as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." It has been described as one of the most important English novels almost since its publication.
The character development is deep with rich descriptions of provincial life. Almost from the beginning of this tome, I was drawing parallels with Jane Austen who also considers some of the same themes. Jane Austen, however, never comes across to me as quite so didactic or preaching. For me these were almost shouts that came through the narrative. And it wasn't that Eliot wasn't preaching to the choir. She was. I guess I just prefer to have my authors quite disappear in a book. Here I think Dickens is much better at considering social issues without exposing himself carrying around a placard about some kind of injustice.
I might also add in its defense that I felt Eliot's psychological studies of human nature with all of its flaws and complexity were also particularly well done. Contrasts between idealism and reality are very nicely drawn. I'd better stop at that. Thinking of all of its merits, I'm liable to pick the damn book up again. Too many times, as my friend Jen said, "I felt like throwing the book across the room." No mas!
Having barely finished half the book, I am even less qualified than usually to critique this fine piece of literature. Suffice it to say that it was mostly the pace of the book failed to hold my interest and I just gave up. I want to say that I will return to it someday but I probably will not.
Because I did not finish reading this book, the above star rating is based on an Internet average. Audible does not allow submitting reviews without putting in a star rating first.
Beautiful, rich prose. Shows off the English culture, customs of the era and provincial life in depth. However, as my conscious mind does appreciate George Eliot's work and the contribution to the English literature, the work itself did not evoke feelings in me (its characters or plot did not impress on my soul).
The novel missed something... A certain passion, something that connected you to the characters. I almost disliked Dorothea and her beloved. There was not enough fire in them. And they were both so stuck in their own political, social, matrimonial ideologies that it took away from me, as a reader, the pleasure of connecting and experiencing their love alongside them. The same goes for Fred and Mary.
I'm glad I got to read a George Eliot work but I don't think I'll be re-reading this work or any other work by her.