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Monday, January 27, 2014

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

When Rebecca Mead first read Middlemarch as a bright young 17 year old, she identified strongly with the charming heroine Dorothea.  Mead grew up in a provincial town in England without a theatre and sadly lacking in culture and intellectual life.  Like the passionate Dorothea, she longed for something more, and she wondered what she would do with her life, and struggled to find meaning in her life.

She often read Middlemarch again throughout her life, and she later identified with the author as well, especially when she fell in love with a man with three sons like Eliot did.  This led her to analyse what the book meant to her over the years, and to study George Eliot's life.

This is not only the story of why the characters and the book meant so much to Mead; it is also a biography of Eliot and a quest for the meaning of Eliot's life.  Mead goes in search of Eliot and attempts to understand more about her and why she was such a great writer and why she didn't conform to what was expected of women in Victorian times.

Unfortunately, I remember reading Middlemarch at university almost thirty years ago very well, and I never want to read it again.  I like most classics, but Middlemarch drove me mad, although I liked Dorothea.  Luckily, the BBC series brought it to life for me, and I actually liked the series much more.  I tried not to let my feelings about the book affect my enjoyment of this book, however, and I found Mead's writing quite profound.  This is highly recommended, especially if you like Middlemarch!

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