I finally finished it! I went in to Middlemarch thinking that I would love it, because I’d heard from everyone that they did. I figured I’d finish it in a few weeks, in time for the next meeting of the Masochists and Classics book club (even though I couldn’t attend that day). Then, I started reading it and, after a couple chapters, stalled out.
What happened was that I really liked how the book began, with the sisters Dorothea and Celia. I was engrossed in their story and interested in their dynamic. But, when what I wanted was to see what was going to happen with them, the book left them–never really to return to Celia–and moved on to some other members of their community, then others, then others before swinging back to Dorothea. It’s not that the other people in the book weren’t fascinating in their own right, and the writing was still bright and funny, but the further I moved from Dorothea, the more anxious I got. What is going on with her? is what I wanted to know.
The book is more about a community, and themes of marriage and money, than it is about any one person, but I think Elliot set up such a special character in Dorothea that I couldn’t handle the story’s expansiveness. I almost gave up, but I don’t really give up on books so I went back in to finish it this past week and am glad I did. The last quarter of the book moved faster and was more fun than the first three quarters (excluding, of course, the Dorothea parts). Even though I wanted the book smaller (which is really not a surprise–I like small books) I could appreciate it in the end.