November: Reading George Eliot
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Digital audiobook read by Nadia May
Silas Marner is a weaver who was banished from his small religious community on a false charge of theft. He moves to the village of Ravensloe, where he leads a reclusive, miserly life as the town’s weaver. His gold is stolen from him, however, reinforcing his belief that everything is against him. Until … returning home on a snowy evening he finds a baby girl asleep at his hearth. Her mother has died in the snow, and Silas adopts the child, believing that his gold has somehow been symbolically returned in the form of this delightful little girl.
A classic tale of the redemptive power of love, first published in 1861. As is typical of the novels of the era, the plot includes numerous coincidences that stretch this reader’s tolerance. There is much misery, but Eliot does give us a few moments of joy, and an ending full of hope. I did think Eliot was somewhat heavy-handed in relaying her message, however.
I know this was assigned reading when I was in high school, and I’m sure I relied on the Cliff’s Notes. Reading now, I’m reminded of the writing style of Charles Dickens.
Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans and converted to Evangelicalism while still in school. She later disavowed it, but those roots are clear in this tale. In private, however, she became estranged from her family when she moved to London as a single woman. There she met George Henry Lewes, and lived with him for some twenty years, despite the fact that he was already married. He encouraged her to write and publish. She was somewhat notorious for this open relationship and felt no one would read her novels, so adopted the pseudonym of George Eliot.
Nadia May does a fine job performing the audiobook. However, I did have trouble staying focused. That isn’t her fault, it’s simply the prevalent style of writing of the mid-19th century.
I read The Mill on the Floss as assigned reading for a college course, and I didn't like it enough to be tempted into reading other George Eliot books anytime soon. Of course, Middlemarch is considered such a classic that I feel kind of compelled to read it, but it takes a back burner to so many other books I actually want to read.