I’m not even going to attempt to summarize Middlemarch. It’s a situational story about a small town in Britain, and the various things that happen to several key families. Actually, I’m not even sure I can really review this book. It’s incredibly long, and very good, and my thoughts about it are terribly scattered. Things:
– The book started slowly enough that when I first tried to listen to the audio of it, back in April, I gave up after a bit and put it aside. It was only after listening to The Precious One shortly afterwards, with Middlemarch being a key plot element and spoilers abounding, that I decided to try again. I waited until a moment when I thought a long, slow classic would be perfect. Good choice. It was perfect.
– I loved just about every character, with few exceptions. I loved how well-developed they all were and how they evolved throughout the novel.
– This is one of those books that have interludes of conversations between townsfolk who are extremely minor characters and who often don’t show up more than once or twice. In the past, this might have stressed me out, but this time, I just rolled with it and listened to the information those characters gave, rather than trying to remember who they were specifically.
– In this way, the book reminded me very strongly of Hardy’s Return of the Native. Actually, there were a lot of similarities between the two, especially in how the stories were constructed, and I think my enjoyment was increased for that comparison, since Native is one of my favorites ever.
– I loved the ending. So many classics have a tendency to end in abject misery, but not Middlemarch. It’s not a fairy tale. There’s no full-on happily ever after. But there is moderated happiness, even in the lives of those who fall far.
– I am so very glad I close to listen to this on audio, and that I picked this particularly audio version. I rarely listen to classics on audio, but some of them really work that way, and Middlemarch was one. Furthermore, I chose the audio read by my very favorite narrator, Kate Reading, and she did a masterful job with Middlemarch. She created distinct voices for each character, no matter how minor, and really performed the emotions as characters spoke, without overemphasizing. Beyond that, each chapter begins with a quote, often in another language. No matter the language – Italian, French, German, Latin, etc – Reading read the quotes flawlessly, with correct pronunciation and accent. Very impressive. There are a lot of audio options for Middlemarch, but I highly recommend choosing this one!
So in general, this was an all around pleasant reading experience, and I’m glad that after years of people telling me I should read Middlemarch, I finally have.