So I missed my Book V and VI check-in post and when I sat down to write this post two days ago, I spilled my drink all over my mother-in-law’s laptop computer (doesn’t everyone blog with a beer in hand?) For some reason, the universe really doesn’t want me to finish this readalong. Nevertheless, it’s the end of the month and our reading of Middlemarch together has come to a close.
What did you think? I have to say that the second half of the book went much more quickly for me than the first, in part because I started listening to the audio in conjunction with reading the e-book, so I increased my reading time exponentially. I actually had a three-hour stretch in which to listen while I drove to my in-law’s house on Christmas Eve. And then I just flew through the last volume because it was suspenseful and I wanted to see how everything would turn out.
Overall I was very satisfied with my reading experience, and I enjoyed the book much more than the first time I read it. Having taught Victorian literature in the interim, I definitely understood the context better and gained insights into what makes Middlemarch such a special book when seen in comparison with other Victorian novels. When I’d finished it, I had the thought that Eliot had really accomplished something unique, as in many ways it manages to be a political novel even while set in the countryside, seemingly far away from the heart of the reform movement of the cities. She made me understand the big issues of the time through the lens of a small country town, a microcosm of the Victorian world which is also a memento of an England that was fast disappearing. Middlemarch is a place caught between eras and yet out of time, and I loved getting to know and care about the characters that populate it.
Dorothea and Will. Sigh. I want to carve their initials in a tree somewhere. I even managed to care about Fred and Mary by the end, and I love that Eliot decided to end the book with them, because they remain steadfast throughout the book, even as their fortunes ebb and flow. I felt sorry for Lydgate, but I thought his and Rosamond’s story was a good counterpoint to Dorothea and Will’s.
Thanks so much to those of you who joined in the readalong and kept me company along the way–you’re the best. We’ll have to come up with another chunkster classic to read together in the new year!
Other Thoughts on Middlemarch: