This is a remarkable book.
Listening to it being read -- so very beautifully by Stevenson -- allows the listener to absorb the many dimensions of this classic. There is the subtle humor and the witty and insightful political and social commentary. Then there are the calls for the liberation of women, not only on a social level, but urging women to recognise their own position in the society of the 1830s and respond even if it only within the confines of their family.
The main heroine, Dorothea, is remarkably portrayed: she could be a woman of 2012: she is ruled by a confused idealism, wanting to contribute positively to an unequal and unfair society and work towards higher philosophical understanding of the nature of existence. At the same time, she has tragically unrealistic expectations of a marriage where she believes she can help achieve her partner's fulfillment rather than her own. The male characters range from self absorption and selfishness, directionless laziness, caring partners: again these men are recognisable today. There is so very much in here.
But to return to the reader, Juliet Stevenson. She has a wonderful voice, her acting out of characters is superb -- and most of all, she shares her understanding of what Eliot was endeavoring to convey in this apparently ordinary story about ordinary people in an ordinary little town in England.
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