The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

I first read Middlemarch by George Eliot when I was a teenager, when I was drawn to very long novels, and especially the English classics. I read it again some years ago and loved it, so was excited when I came across both Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss in a charity shop. I really believe George Eliot is one of the best novelists ever, so I am keen to read all of her works.

Characterisation is excellent – she seems to have a such a good insight into people and is so witty in some of her descriptions – I often laughed out loud. There are characters who behave very badly, but most do have redeeming features, or act through ignorance rather than malice. Maggie’s relationships with her parents, brother and aunts are all complicated, and despite the fact that society has changed so much since this novel was written, it is very easy to relate to Maggie’s struggles. I have read that this novel is quite autobiographical – if so, George’s life must have been so difficult. The descriptions of Maggie’s yearning for love and acceptance while being criticised for her dark colouring and spirited personality are heartbreaking.

I read this as part of the Goodreads AtY challenge – the prompt for this one was a book of more than 500 pages – my edition has 691 pages. I also read it as the first in my Classics Club challenge.

Overall this book was a joy to read and I heartily recommend it.

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