It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through our Middlemarch readalong! Where does the time go? I’m always amazed by how quickly I can get through an intimidatingly large book when I have friends to read along with–it makes a good reading experience that much more enjoyable.
And I’m enjoying the book itself, even more so this past week. There were parts of Book Two that lagged for me, mostly the political parts where there was a lot of exposition and no real character development, but things go going again towards the end of Book II when we are reunited with Dorothea and Casaubon in Rome. At the moment I’m still working my way through Book IV, but I hope to catch up early this week as I’ve now downloaded the audiobook to listen to on my commute and to complement my reading of the book.
Book III gives us more insight into the characters of the Vincy and Garth families, as well as Dr. Lydgate. I love the way that Eliot reveals their personalities and motivations through not only their own actions but the way they are seen by various members of the Middlemarch community. I think someone else participating in the readalong may have mentioned this, but it’s as if the town itself is a character, sitting back and commenting on the action. The narrator could almost be one of the townspeople to me, although admittedly one with a lot of insight.
By the end of Book III, we’ve had one new marriage, one engagement, and several potential relationships that are in a state of uncertainty. We’ve also had a funeral, the outcome of which event may change the course of things significantly for several of our characters. I’m thoroughly invested in the novel at this point and I’m anxious to see what happens next, although I’m starting to understand Eliot well enough to know that things will not be simple.
I didn’t make as many marks and highlights this past week, but one passage in particular struck me in a scene in which Dorothea is seen crying six weeks after her wedding.
Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wraught itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
If you’re reading along with me, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Books Three and Four. If you’ve written a check-in post for this week and you don’t see it listed below, please let me know and I will add it to the list. And remember that we’re also chatting about Middlemarch on twitter using the hashtag #middlemarch13.
Other Thoughts on Books Three and Four: