Dorothea Brooke is an ardent idealist who represses her vivacity and intelligence for the cold, theological pedant Casaubon. One man understands her true nature: the artist Will Ladislaw. But how can love triumph against her sense of duty and Casaubon’s mean spirit? Meanwhile, in the little world of Middlemarch, the broader world is mirrored: the world of politics, social change, and reforms, as well as betrayal, greed, blackmail, ambition, and disappointment.
Dorothea Brooke is an outstanding heroine; Middlemarch is filled with characters that are vivid and true, comic and moving. It is one of the greatest novels in the English language.
Public Domain (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
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)
If you like stories that take a very, very long time to develop, then, by all means, choose this book! It was not easy to do but I forced myself to hang in there but by mid-point of the book I just had to give up and call it a bad choice. The story just never took off --- a very, very slow read and way too much inconsequential narrative and detail. I really did not like the narration either --- it was as if she too was reading the book for the first time.
I have been a member of Audible for a couple of years but my last two book choices have been the worst! I received a credit refund last time and chose this book as my next choice. I'm on a losing streak!
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."
While I could appreciate the exquisite turns of phrase and skillful use of the English language, I couldn't get into the story. I found my mind wandering, and I'd snap out of it and start listening again and wonder what happened while I'd "dozed off." Juliet Stevenson is an excellent reader, but even she couldn't keep me involved. I struggled along for several hours, but surrendered about a third of the way through.
Cannot speak highly enough of this extensive story, nor Juliet's reading. Indelible characters (and lots of them!). I saw this more as an exercise in applied philosophy than a novel. Moral dilemmas and human frailty are played out brilliantly.
George Eliot must be one of the most gorgeous prose stylists who ever wrote in English. Her psychological insights are astounding. But just looking at the many pages and the small print in the book itself is daunting -- so it's lovely to have it read to you by a first-rate reader.
I think the brilliant novels of Edith Wharton -- especially "The House of Mirth." But, because of the complex double- and triple-plotting, something by Dickens is probably the closest match. To me Eliot is superior to Dickens.
Stevenson is a superb reader, but I think her male voices are a bit exaggerated and often do not fit my visual image of the characters. Her female voices (surprise!) are the most effective. This temptation of readers to "act" everything out is often more of a distraction than an asset.
The entire saga of Dorothea Casaubon is a moving feminist statement, but Eliot carefully balances this with the saga of the young doctor, Tertius Lydgate. The plotting is amazingly good.
One of the great books in English. Belongs on a Top Ten list.
"One of the most brilliant books I've ever re-read"
One of my favourite books of all time, and another wonderful performance by Juliet Stevenson. Highly recommended to all readers.
"4.75 stars for story"
Glad I listened, Juliet Stevenson reads beautifully. It's a classic tale of thwarted love coming right and all the heartbreak and decision making in between. There are some great characters, and well observed understanding of human behaviour.
Had to stop myself using words and sentence structure that I managed to absorb while listening to it though, I went all Eliot/Austen.
"Long-winded and pretentious"
I liked some of the characters but disliked the endless musings
No, I know she is highly thought of but I found it pretentious
Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful narrator, I felt her struggle with some of the Italian and French preambles to each chapter but they could have been left out in my opinion as they added nothing.
"What amazing insight into the human condition."
Yes, as it is such a rich story and I probably missed some of this in hurrying to get to the end
Eliot's ability to show each character from their own authentic view. I also was impressed at the building and interweaving of all the characters into an overall plot that was believable and rich indepth.
No, but think she is a great narrator
"Best Victorian Novel."
The writing was beautiful and the narration was wonderful. What kept me most enthralled though was the ability of the author to deal with the essential human condition in its many diverse manifestations in a way that transcended the time in which it was written.
The novel was realistic and honest and not just 'happy ever after'. I loved Eliot's philosophical reflections on what was happening in the text.
Stevenson's range of voices was excellent.
'There are so many way to be in the world - dare to be different'.
Highly recommended. I downloaded a character chart of the relationships which was very useful to keep track of who's who.
"Juliet Stevenson is extraordinary"
I've known and loved the book for years, so no surprises there. But the narration by Juliet Stevenson is just amazing - the range of accents, the different voices for various characters and her beautifully modulated delivery of the narrative blew me away. What an exceptional talent. I sometimes wonder what actors are paid so much for: now I know.
"Is this the best novel ever written?"
I have read it and loved it over the years. Wonderful performance by Juliet Stephenson. It is long but well worth the effort.
The best audiobook I've listened too. By far. Beautiful reading of a fabulous novel.
The downfall of Bulstrode and with him, Dr Lydgate
I'd buy audiobooks just because Juliet Stephenson was a narrator. 84 Charing Cross Road being one example. But this was an outstanding reading of what can be dense text.
A very special story of a very ordinary town
"Classic soap opera"
For the women characters to be stronger and more assertive. Dorothea was clearly an intelligent woman but she just gave in all the time to the men around her. I liked Mary much better. She knew what she wanted, said so and in the end got her way.
Return of the Native b Thomas Hardy
Juliet Stevenson gave all the characters individuality and she was my favourite thing about this book. The bumbling, stuttering uncle was the best.
A host of characters all with different stories, which to me appeared to be like a period soap opera.
"Juliet Stevenson makes the reading magnificent."
Not again - this is probably a once in a lifetime listen, but not to be missed.
The slow progression, as the characters in Middlemarch are introduced, developed, and inter-act.
At over 30 hours, I think not.
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