The novel is set in the small town of Middlemarch and follows the inter-related lives of several characters. At the heart of the book is Dorothea, a kind-hearted and honest woman, who longs to find some way to improve the world. She marries an older academic, Casaubon, against the advice of her friends and family. Casaubon tries to assert his influence over Dorothea, but she refuses to succumb to Casaubon's will. Casaubon soon dies of a heart attack, and Dorothea marries his cousin, Will. But, in a last attempt to control Dorothea's life, Casaubon's will states that if Dorothea marries Will, she will lose her claim to Casaubon's estate.
Other unforgettable characters in Middlemarch include the young doctor, Lydgate, who come to the town to start his own practice. He soon falls in love with Rosamund, a woman who has spent her life in Middlemarch, and they eventually marry. Fred Vincey, used to a lavish lifestyle but also a gambler, falls into debt as he waits to inherit money from a rich neighbor. He drifts toward the clergy, and longs to marry Mary Garth. But until he proves himself worthy, Mary will have nothing to do with him.
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It is for good reason modern authors such as Julian Barnes and Martin Amis have cited Middlemarch as probably the greatest novel in the English language. George Eliot's (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) penetrating insight into the innermost workings of the human character, in all its variety, is nothing short of breathtaking.
The setting of a small town in early 19th century England and the people populating it is quite ordinary but it is the genius of Eliot that we come to see that "ordinary" people are anything but. From the wonderful Dorothea, a young woman yearning "to do something important" with her life, to Mr. Casaubon, a pedantic scholar who grows increasingly embittered and fearful as he begins to suspect the meaninglessness of his life's work, we are granted access to the secret heart of each character, with all its hopes, nobility, delusions, pettiness and frustrations. Add to this Eliot's generous sense of humor and you have a truly extraordinary book--one of the very few I consider worth repeated readings.
The novel may begin a bit slowly for some readers, but perseverance will be richly rewarded. Kate Reading's narration is a masterpiece in itself.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
This book is full of psychological insight; the characters are memorable, and the narrator does a superb job. I loved listening to this!
I listened to this book during my commute. It helped pass a very tedious drive. The reading did not disappoint. The novel is very long, but this gave the writer enough time to develop the characters through the course of the story. I especially enjoyed the preludes to each chapter and will use some of them to look for future readings. The themes are universal and thought-provoking. I may take the initiative now to read the book.
"Middlemarch" is a worthwhile albeit lengthy read. Eliot is excellent at detailing personality traits, giving you a familiarity with each character and there are quite a few that you get to know in "Middlemarch". It's easy to recognize people similar to those in the story.
This novel deals wide range of issues including selflessness, selfishness, greed, malevolence, benevolence, love, unsavory pasts, murder(or not?), and more.
I enjoyed this wonderful book. I never tired of listening to the fate of its heroine Dorothea and the inhabitants of Middlemarch. The reader's voice was excellent.
The books itself is a reflection on the transition from the ancient world to the modern society, with a characteristically modern emphasis on individual characters and their circumstances. The narrator is great! Her reading is fluid and nuanced. Kate Reading is able to bring the novel's characters to life in subtle ways. I highly recommend this.
Beautifully written, beautifully read, beautiful and witty novel! I highly reccommend this to anyone. Elliot's humor is subtle but hilarious and the narration perfectly fits her writing stlye. Very enjoyable!
I had already seen the BBC miniseries before listening to this book, and still, I was completely engrossed in it. The reader, Kate Reading, is fabulous. She understands George Eliot's wit as much as her deft characterization, which gives her reading a lot of life. I would not hesitate because of the book's length; you will be sad when the book ends!
I decided to listen to this book because it was a classic and because the reviews on Audible were overall very good. For the first hour or two of listening, I had my doubts about whether it was worth listening to the rest. However, once I started to get the characters straight the book became more and more enjoyable. I listened to the book in the car and couldn't wait to drive more so that I could listen to more of the book. The narrator is wonderful and breathes life into the characters. I would highly recommend this book.
One piece of advice that might make the first hour or two easier is to look up Middlemarch on Wikipedia. This article gives a nice overview of the main characters and will get you up to speed on who's who much faster than just listening to the book though I wouldn't look at this article if you don't want to find out where the characters end up in the end.
At the age of 67 I finally got to Middlemarch, grumbled to myself through the first 45 minutes, and then was gradually, completely hooked. I guess there's a reason everyone says it is a great novel. And the narrator! I have been listening to audio books for more than 20 years, and Kate Reading has supplanted Barbara Rosenblatt in my pantheon. Her ability to differentiate among a few dozen characters is astonishing, and the personality of each of those characters is captured beautifully.
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