I’m back from holiday now. My reading challenge was the book that my book group has chosen as an optional big read: Middlemarch. It was wonderful reading it when I was able to immerse myself in it in a way that’s difficult among the distractions of home (and the internt). I got through it in a week or so. It was hugely satisfying – and so interesting rereading it at this stage in my life.
I must have been around the same age as Dorothea when I first read it in my late teens and reading it now, when I am so much older, gave me new insights. It is of course a book about marriage. but this time round I found myself also thinking about the parents, or those standing in for them. What was Mr Brooke thinking of, allowing Dorothea to marry Casaubon, when he could have made her wait at least until she came of age?
And then there is Rosamund Vincy, whose blonde perfection, narcissim, and ignorance has troubled me in the past. I’ve wondered if George Eliot was a little hard on her. She is the polar opposite of the kind of woman that George Eliot was. This time round I thought about the way Rosamond had been educated – or rather not educated – and the way she had been brought up. Both she and Fred had been very indulged, spoilt even by their parents. At the beginning of the novel Fred is hanging around, hoping to be saved from having to work by a timely inheritance, and really is saved by the love of a good woman. Rosamund goes into marriage knowing nothing of her own responsibilites, expecting only to be petted and to have her own way in everything as she had with her parents. Eliot traces the impact of this with chilling precision.
There’s more I want to say, especially about Mr Casaubon, but that can wait for next time. What a pleasure it has been, encountering this book again,