Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Rave! Middlemarch

You guys.

I’m about to go all English major on you with this book rave, and actually I hadn’t planned to choose this book to rave about but then last weekend someone asked me what my favorite book was. I reflexively responded Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Mary Anne Evans
George Eliot was actually Mary Anne Evans, and I don’t know why we continue to use her pen name but whatever. I don’t make the rules, but perhaps it’s time for a petition to stop all this nonsense and give the woman her due.

And, yes, I know. I’m raving about some 19th-century tome considered to be a masterwork of English literature but there it is. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

More than that, this book is, quite frankly, the reason I write. And even though, yes, I was a freaking English Lit major, I didn’t read Middlemarch until after I graduated from college. So if you haven’t read it, you shouldn’t feel bad. The person who asked me what my favorite book was hadn’t read it or even heard of it so she asked me to tell her what it was about. Which I did. I explained the basics of the plot and when I got to the end, I completely choked up and almost couldn’t speak.

Mock me if you will, but the last page of this book is probably the most beautiful prose and sentiment in the English language, and don’t you dare just go and open up to the last page and read it. No. You’ve got to earn it by reading the whole thing.


Because I will look deep into your soul and it will shrink back in shame, and I will gaze into your heart like the all-seeing eye of Sauron.

Yes, the book is long. And, yes, the main character Dorothea can be a little much with all her lofty ideals but, dudes, I’m telling you the investment of your time will be well worth it. And to be honest, I want more people to read books like this because my inner English major worries a lot. So many book reviews I read these days mention that books are too slooooow, and maybe it’s true. But this is the price we pay for character development, and I dearly hope humanity is not getting to the point where it can no longer tolerate long-ass books.

So, please, read this utterly beautiful long-ass book. You will not regret it.

How about this? If you read Middlemarch, then I will send you cookies. For real. Read it and then email me, and say, “I read Middlemarch because you recommended it,” I will send you some of my homemade chocolate chip cookies that will knock the socks off your feet like you got hit by a cross-town bus. 


(Also -- and this may be the real reason I choked up a bit talking about this book -- I want to dedicate this post to my dear mentor, friend, and very first editor Sherry Levy-Reiner, who passed away in May. She's the one who told me to give this book a try, and I did, and it changed my life forever. Just like a great book should.)


  1. Ashamed to admit (as a former English major myself) that I haven't read this one. *scribble furiously on library list*

    1. It's a whopper, too, so clear your schedule for a good 6 weeks or so. ;)

  2. I'm going to read this--and not just for the cookies. (though, I do like me some cookies)

    Lovely tribute to your dear friend, too!

  3. It is a bit of a slog, I'll be the first to admit that. But do let me know what you think of it and I will totally make good on the cookie promise.

  4. I freaking LOVE Middlemarch! The funny thing is, I hated it most of the way through reading it (in college), and then, when it was over, I was completely bereft.

  5. I loved this list. What's interesting/frustrating is that there are female authors who use male pseudonyms today, or gender-neutralize their names (JK Rowling). The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.

    To be honest, I don't think I'd ever heard of MIDDLEMARCH. *hangs head in shame* In my defense, I was a film major, so I didn't do much reading in college.

  6. *hangs head with Phil*

    I wasn't familiar w/ MIDDLEMARCH either. But I'm going to check it out RIGHT NOW.:) I wonder how I've never heard of it. Ugh.

    And hugs to you, KLM, for the loss of your friend. *wraps you in Valentine love*

    Lovely post!

  7. Yeah, so, I heard of MIDDLEMARCH back in my Women's Studies classes and it sounded...not fun. So in continuing on my quest to never do things which are not fun (except for, like, paying the bills because eviction equals even less fun) I'm not going to read it ;-) Maybe I'll read the last page...someday. Can I have a bite of cookie?

    But who knew you could be so wry and sarcastically funny and also such an egghead? ;-) *ducks out of the way of your slap*

    Seriously though, hugs to you and what lovely tribute to your friend's memory.


    PS Phil, you do realize Joanne Rowling was basically forced to gender-neutralize (hah, that sounds like really bad surgery) herself and that the K initial was tacked on because she has no middle name, right? my understanding is that it definitely wasn't her choice.

  8. Funny. My mentor, Joy Neaves, always talks about this book. I started it. It's on my Kindle, guess it's time for a revisit.