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
English major. Love to read
I have been an audible listener for close to five years now and this is the best book I have ever listened to. I hated this book in college and,if it hadn't been for a friend who suggested I try it again,I would have continued to hate it. I now say pish on my earlier self, this is a fantastic story and George Eliot is an insightful woman whose perspective on life is timeless. But the very best part of this listen is Juliet Stevenson. Oh my, what a narrator: I may be forever spoiled by her mastery. My favorite characterizations were the stuffy Englishmen whose voices were so perfectly captured that I was in awe each time I heard them. This is a must read.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
This book has been on my to-read list for years. This year, I read a a very positive review of Juliet Stevenson's narration in Booklist and decided that the time was right...and I loved it!
Without a doubt, she is one of the best narrators I have ever listened to - ranking up there with Jim Dale, George Guidall and Scott Brick.
Plus, Middlemarch, which had been highly recommended to me by friends who knew I was a fan of Jane Austen, was wonderful. It's a big, big novel, but it really is a timeless classic, full of observations about people that still ring true today.
Give it a go...you won't regret it.
Bread Baking Enthusiast
I have purchased Middlemarch read by a different narrator before and simply could not listen to it. It was boring, and very long.
Well, when I have learned that Juliet Stevenson has produced this book, I have purchased it right away and was not sorry. Amazing skill of the narrator brought all the characters alive and made this 19th century piece of literature very relevant in our modern life. George Elliot was one sharp woman and knew how to develop her characters. Brilliant!
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.
I loved this novel and felt as though I knew every character from the nuanced reading of Juliet Stevenson. I would gladly listen to any book she reads and hope that "Daniel Deronda" will be among her next projects.
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.
I tried to read Middlemarch in highschool and again in university but could never sink in. What was missing for me was Juliet Stevenson's narration. Her skill makes this masterful story much more accessible and a pleasure to experience. Eliot's wit sparkles through in this performance.
One of the best audiobooks I've listened to.
Juliet Stevenson is always fantastic. This might be my favorite of her narrations, though.
Rosamond. Stevenson (and Eliot) depicts her in her complexity brilliantly.
If you're considering M-march as an audiobook, ignore reviewers recommending other narrators (a few of which I've listened to as well), GET JULIET STEVENSON.
Ordinarily, I would begin a review with an evaluation of the actual book rather than the narrator but in this case, Stevenson was SUCH a standout that I had to begin with her. To say that she inhabits each character fully is to sell her performance short. I remember Stevenson from the movie version of Emma in which she plays Mrs. Elton so wonderfully snarky and politely arrogant. But this narration shows her talents to a greater degree. Not only does each character have a different sounding voice, but one can practically hear their thoughts as Stevenson brings them to life.
What is so perfect about this amazing performance is that it makes a somewhat challenging novel much easier to manage. There are so many characters and so many story lines that Eliot brings together so beautifully (eventually) that a reader can easily lose track. Several of the characters are not easy to like, a few are like-able at first and then become less so, some are not like-able at first and grow on you. It is a lot to keep up with. But the story is well worth the investment. Eliot is wise and funny. Her take on the relationships between men and women is insightful. Well-deserving of its status as one of the greatest books ever written.
I gave the story only 4 stars because there isn't much that actually "happens." It is not an exciting story. The story is really in the every day happenings of the characters. That is where the true genius lies.
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."
"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.
I found this heavy going...I usually finish my audiobooks really quickly, too quickly, but I had to almost force myself to keep going back to this. I think I may enjoy it more on a second listening though, now that I know the characters...
The narration is great and I did enjoy the last third of the book once I'd finally begun to care and be interested in the various storylines.
All in all I'm glad I stuck with it and I'll be trying it again at some point.
"A unique cultural delight- unforgettable"
This is the most beautifully written and fantastically narrated work which stays with you forever. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Listening to Middlemarch has been a cultural highlight , a feast of superb writing. The most enriching 15 hours of my life, the minute it was over, I wanted to begin all over again. A MUST read/ listen, I now understand why it is the book of choice for so many.
"The Archers as literature ..."
Title a bit tongue in cheek, though there were parts of the book that were very slow and did not seem to advance either the characters or the plot/plots. What got me through the first half of the book, which really is too long, was Juliet Stevenson's utterly brilliant narration and ability to give life and individuality to so many characters. I have put an extensive review of my impressions on Goodreads. If you like everyday tales of country folk and enjoy Austen, Trollope or Hardy and have plenty of time for listening, you should give this a go. If you don't have much time, seek out an abridged version. And if the classics mentioned are not to your taste, you will hate this!
It took me a little while to get into it, but within a few chapters I was completely enthralled. Brilliantly narrated, and a compelling, comprehensive portrait of a village. I didn't want it to be over!
It is read so well by Juliet that even the ancient language becomes accessible. There are real insights in the text into personality that ring true with current thinking on psychology, and social comments that are bang up to date. And on top of that the story is gripping.
I think that if you like Jane Austin you will probably like this
I found it hard to turn off and found myself looking forward picking up the story again
"Really, very good."
I expected this to be a bit of a drag and felt it was something I "should" read. So I was surprised to find myself chuckling at the witty, sparkling, beautiful writing. It soon became clear why it was such a classic. The performance was fantastic. Juliet Stevenson just got every nuance and made it so accessible, I am sure that it was thanks to her performance that I found it so amusing and enjoyable.
Wonderful characters live and love through a few years in the life of rural Middlemarch in the 1830s England. This is an effortlessly drawn landscape written by an accomplished story teller, brought to life so vividly by a talented actress. This is hours of gentle listening. I loved it.
The passionate and deep Dorothea, who would have had such different life in our own times.
Her mastery of each character's voice makes the performance 3 dimensional
When Dorothea realizes her husband does not appreciate her
A drama of the times in 1830 but all the characters we can easily identify with. A human story at its best.
Life enriching, brilliant
The characters became best friends. I felt I knew them intimately.
Middlemarch is always on my 'must read' list. I've started it and got nowhere. Thanks to Juliet Stevenson and a few long car/train journeys and I was through it all too quickly. Juliet Stevenson was compelling listening. I'm sure George Eliot would have been delighted with how Juliet Stevenson portrayed her characters.
No. Better to savour it all over a few weeks bit by bit.
I'm early in my audio books career - this has given me so much pleasure, I'm now hungry for more.....particularly read by Juliet Stevenson!
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