Book Review

Middle March

George Elliot


A book that divided the group. Some enjoyed it others didn’t finish finding it long and verbose i.e. a typical Victorian novel.

The positive elements were the characterisation of those within the book. The people were well portrayed, believable and creating a likeable community. The book reflects the attitude to women at the time, that their intellect was considered much lower than a man’s and they and thought more suited to the role of wife and mother. The divide between church and chapel, the pecking order of social standing and the politics of local professionals and national politics in relation to village concerns are also featured.

Two parallel marriages are depicted Dorothea and Casaubon’s and Dr Laidlaw and Rosie Viney. Dorothea sees her marriage as a way to extend her intellectual development and fulfil her wish to improve the world for others. Casaubon hopes to gain a suitable, sober wife who will act as his amanuensis in completing his life’s work. Dr Laidlaw is physically attracted to Rosie with whom he spends little time alone. Rosie’s ambition is to marry someone with status and financial security. Both couples are destined to disappointment.

There are elements of humour in the book, particularly in the conversations between the members of the community.

If the thought of 800+ pages is off putting BBC Sounds has an excellent dramatization.

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