Posted on May 7, 2014 in Books, Reflections

I spent my lunch hour today listening to a podcast panel discussion on George Elliot’s masterpiece, Middlemarch, first published in 1871. The panel of Elliot scholars, all women, were interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio months back.

I can identify with the young women in Middlemarch who hold a fierce idealism about marriage and family and with those who want to find a greater purpose in their lives. I can also identify with the same women having to come to terms with a less-than-perfect world, relationships that are not textbook, and lives that have been touched by grief. Perhaps what I appreciate most about George Elliot’s rendering of the reality of women’s lives is her compassionate gaze on all the characters, men and women, even those whom I don’t like.

Give it a listen, even if you haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. What the book and the panel have to say about women and marriage and writing is still timely.



  1. Anita Jenkins
    May 7, 2014

    Middlemarch is a great book. For me, women’s roles were only one part of the theme – it was a broad analysis of the workings of a whole society.

    • Audrey
      May 7, 2014

      That’s true as well. George gives a brilliant analysis of the classes and manners, goings and comings of a provincial English town. It seems to me though that the point of view of the women are given somewhat more prominence. But it’s been a while since I read the book.

  2. Eva
    May 8, 2014

    I am tackling it again, for the third time. Perhaps I’m old enough now?

  3. Audrey
    May 8, 2014

    The panel talked about how they experienced the book differently at different ages and stages in their lives.