I’m not really one for reading the classics. I once read Wuthering Heights just so I could declare a dislike for it – having given up on the novel previously because of the hatred I had for Heathcliffe, despair with Catherine, and impatience with the narration by the housekeeper.
Still, I make an effort on occasion to pick one up now and then and give it a go. This is how I came to adore Little Women, the novel that spoke to me as a teenager and simultaneously made me want to be both industrious Jo and devoted Beth; a personality mix not quite suited to the modern day, or indeed to a teenager of seventeen!
Recently I saw mention of Middlemarch as a novel recommended by another writer. I didn’t have much knowledge of this story, only really being familiar with George Eliot as a female writer in the nineteenth century. However, when next at the library I saw it out on a display and thought ‘why not?’. So, with my weekend anchored by my disability, I found myself opening up the hefty tome and beginning, despite some words of warning from others.
When I told a few from work that I was planning my attempt to read Middlemarch I received a lot of well wishes and a few shaking heads – it was not something they would ever consider. Perhaps, in part, this made me want to read it more, because I enjoy being the odd one out and accomplishing things not ordinarily done.
I began reading with some trepidation then, but found myself immediately drawn to Dorothea and her sister Celia. The wandering way that Eliot has of meandering from one character to another would usually annoy me, but I’ve settled into the rhythm of it quite well I think. So much so that within a day I’ve completed book one and am eager to begin book two tomorrow.
It’s strange how some authors speak to us more than others. I don’t think I could ever be a fan of Austen or the Brontës, yet I am taken in by Eliot’s characters even though I skim read some of the long, didactic sentences. I’m intrigued to see how Dorothea gets on in her marriage, if Sir James and Celia might make a match, how Dr Lydgate might propose marriage to Rosamond, and how poor Fred will extricate himself from the rumour mill! It is nothing but Victorian gossip-mongering, I’m sure, but it’s certainly keeping me engaged!