Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial LifeMiddlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WOW! that was an audio marathon. 35 hours! practically a work-week.

i listened to the version read by Juliet Stevenson, who did an unspeakably superb job. really, it was a spectacular performance.

as to the book!

Middlemarch really is a study of provincial life, however, and sometimes you’ll wish that Eliot had had a tad more concern for hauling you through the stupefying boredom of provincial politics, the wags at the local bar, the eternal greek chorus of the neighbors. this can be got through, however, even in an audiobook. i took a couple naps through really deadly parts–i attuned my ears to wake me if anything good happened, and they did, and lots of good and interesting stuff is worth staying awake for.

the good parts are all about dorothea and ladislaw, rosamond and tertius, mary and fred, and the wicked bulstrode. it’s perfect soap, if a little uneven, and completely worth the occasional contemporary frustration of wanting to shout “just get on with it!” at them all.

there’s something about Eliot, Austen, and the Brontes: such a minute observation of feeling. when i read books by any of these three, i start to feel as though i am somehow handicapped, as if the ability to feel and observe emotion has been amputated in me. it’s a marvel to me, to watch them so carefully anatomize an emotion down to its finest constituent hues. was it just that they had time? or because, living in small towns from which they could not escape, they were required to attend to the slightest shift in their neighbors’ feeling?

highly recommended.