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Middlemarch | [George Eliot]

Middlemarch

George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career.
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Publisher's Summary

George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.

Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past.

As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as 'one of the few English novels written for adult people'.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 08-28-13
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 08-28-13 Member Since 2007

    The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history

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    "Read for its humor & glimmers of female rebellion"

    I enjoyed the parts of this novel more than the whole of it. Taken altogether, this seemed like a story that could have been told in half the pages while still getting across the main points the author was making. The book principally documents the lives of several individuals, each of whom when young believes he or she is destined to do Great Things. Over the course of several hundred pages, the author shows how her protagonists, either through their own poor judgment or because of their place in the social web (dictated by the mores of Victorian society) end up living pretty unremarkable lives.

    It is a testament to Eliot’s excellence as a writer that she manages to make these everyday lives interesting. She does this via a delightful cast of supporting characters and witty asides that skewer human nature generally. I found myself smiling frequently and underlining many wonderful passages throughout the book.

    But what makes this book worth reading over a century after it was written is the way it shows the first glimmers of rebellion against the way women were brought up, particularly women of middle and upper-middle class status. None of the women in the book are allowed to fully utilize their abilities, particularly their minds, and are for the most part submissive to their fathers, brothers, and husbands. But this submission does not come easily, and each manages to slip out from under the oppression of her situation in her own way.

    [I listened to this as an audio book performed by Maureen O'Brien. She did a very good job of giving the characters different voices, but I agree she made several of the women sound extremely childish, which was a bit annoying. Still, she was able to get a good deal of humor into the reading which I appreciated.]

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE, United States 10-31-13
    Andrew MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE, United States 10-31-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A Town that Thinks Too Much"

    Middlemarch is an amazing book that portrays a list of characters that seem to get themselves into trouble by thinking too much instead of going with their instincts. Social hierarchy seems to be the factor in the back of every person's mind that decides which romantic or financial turns they will take, at the onset nearly ruining their lives.

    Dorothea happens to be my favorite character due to her independence. I was very frustrated with her time and time again, however, whenever she and Will Ladislaw got together and never acted on the love that each knew was present. It seemed that every time both of them got together I was silently screaming to them both to profess their love and lead happy lives, not ones of servitude to others. When they finally did, I knew that all would turn out well for them.

    The supposed superiority of men over women was a predominant issue that came back over and over again to nearly every character. Whether it was the disgust of a woman deciding for herself who she should marry, or a wife trying to help her husband financially, each woman was put in her place and their actions were restricted, threatened by the fear of a poor lifestyle. Strangely enough, it was the wives that survived their restrictive husbands, and went on to live happily in the end.

    George Eliot (a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans) put together a wonderful conglomeration of social, political, spiritual, and ethical hardships as well as the solutions to such difficulties, and she did so with excellent eloquence. Maureen O'Brien, the narrator, brought forth a terrific performance, with each character clearly understood, even in the most emotional scenes. Very well done!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 06-17-14
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 06-17-14 Listener Since 2009
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    "One of the greatest novels in the English language"
    What did you love best about Middlemarch?

    Dorothea Brooke is both an original character and as familiar as my own heart. She is a well-educated, upper-class young woman who wants to build a life that is meaningful on her own terms and not by the conventions of society, but she is held back by society's limited view of a woman's role in the world. What else did I love -- the many other complex characters who came alive and who worked out their lives in their own ways -- with or without success.


    What other book might you compare Middlemarch to and why?

    In bringing a whole society to life and creating characters as vibrant as real people -- Barchester Towers by Trollope, Vanity Fair by Thackeray, any number of novels by Dickens (Great Expectations, Little Dorrit,Our Mutual Friend,Bleak House).


    What about Maureen O'Brien’s performance did you like?

    She gave each character their own voice, without making anyone a caricature.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Too long! and too complex. It needed to be savored and enjoyed.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edyta Niemyjska 06-11-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book"
    What about Maureen O'Brien’s performance did you like?

    Maureen O'Brien is a great reader. Each character spoke in a slightly different way. The changes were detectable but not annoying.


    Any additional comments?

    Although when I started I did not like the characters very much, throughout the book I got used to them and once the book was finished I missed the characters and the spirit of the novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Pearson Idaho 02-23-15
    E. Pearson Idaho 02-23-15 Member Since 2008

    Occasional Thinker

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    "A Truly Enjoyable Classic"

    The best thing about this book is the character development. I felt a compelling attraction and affinity to every somewhat important character. While some were easier to admire, or dislike, or simply laugh at, I felt that I possessed the same traits during some periods of my life. Eliot is possibly the most honest writer I've ever read. She makes no one fit any pre-established mold; each develops as we readers travel along. I thought several times: "Our worlds and surroundings have changed so immensely; our habits of daily life bear no resemblance," and yet, all that is insignificant. People and events are entirely recognizable in my modern world, as well as in Eliot's.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    heART seneca sc 04-06-14
    heART seneca sc 04-06-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a professional painter and love ennobling, enlightening literature

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    "A true literary gem"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Middlemarch to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read Middlemarch, but have no doubt Ms O'Brien endowed each character with great individuality, breathing into them fully rounded personalities.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The endless profound insights into human thoughts and behaviors and relationships. If I were reading the book, each page would be filled with underlinings. This is a book to truly relish.


    What does Maureen O'Brien bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I'm not certain. Though her reading is hugely empathetic, this is also how I read a book. She is a fabulous reader.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    As in the very best of books, it made me think deeply.


    Any additional comments?

    I've just purchased another George Eliot book. She is a brilliant timeless classic writer whose words bloom like gardens. Middlemarch will be among my top 10 books of all time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Paul A Bernal 04-04-15
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    "Reads too fast."

    Reads too fast for me. I don't know what she's talking about. It's ok to read fast when there's actual story and dialogue but slow down during the chapters that are expressing the writer's thoughts. I'm just going to read this on my kindle or buy a different version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 03-14-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A Masterpiece"

    Took a long time to get through but a long time of pleasure.
    A very good performance as well. A plus

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Schneider 02-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Among the magnificent."

    Middlemarch shines as an example of storytelling not often seen among today's best sellers. Character development with few modern equals.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mantisdolphin 01-14-15

    Mantisdolphin

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    "Engrossing social drama from a time long gone"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Middlemarch to be better than the print version?

    Hard to say. Audio, and a fine reader, bring out things you might miss when reading, but reading the text allows you to capture other nuances, can change speed--go slow for interesting passages, and there are many sage-like passages from Eliot--see all the footnotes, see words that are unfamiliar, though when listened to you move past them, swept up more in the actress/reader's performance and the story.


    What other book might you compare Middlemarch to and why?

    It's epic social drama--Jane Austen on a larger, more philosophical canvas.


    Which character – as performed by Maureen O'Brien – was your favorite?

    Will Ladislaw. Ms. O'Brien's performance was outstanding.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. This is a big, 30-hour plus book.


    Any additional comments?

    Middlemarch is a classic and an audiobook is a great way to introduce oneself to it. But read the text too. A critical edition will supply footnotes and epigraphs to each chapter that the audiobook elides.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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