George Eliot’s beloved classic novel—hailed by Virginia Woolf as “masterful”—follows the life, loves, foibles, and politics of the residents of a fictional English town set amid the social unrest during the Industrial Revolution.
A sprawling work set in a provincial English town, Middlemarch boasts a large cast of characters whose stories interweave against a backdrop of political upheaval.
Instead of choosing to wed a wealthy landowner and settle for a comfortable life, Dorothea Brooke decides to marry Edward Casaubon—a dull scholar who is her senior by a few decades. Dorothea hopes the union will afford her with the opportunity to share in her husband’s intellectual pursuits, but even her best efforts can’t save the disastrous marriage. Meanwhile, idealistic doctor Tertius Lydgate has progressive ideas about the medical field, and he believes the village of Middlemarch is the place that will embrace his beliefs. But when he weds Rosamond Vincy, the mayor’s beautiful daughter, his ideals come into stark contrast with his new bride’s materialism and vanity, dooming their marriage from the start.
Lastly, Rosamond's brother, Fred, is reluctantly destined for the Church. But his childhood sweetheart Mary Garth refuses to accept him until he settles into a more suitable career and one that interests him. But when circumstances lead to Fred losing a sizeable fortune that sets off a calamitous turn of events, he must reevaluate the choices he has made.
As The Guardian notes, Middlemarch “looms above the mid-Victorian literary landscape like a cathedral of words,” offering readers a pivotal shaping of literary realism. Middlemarch is a masterwork of fiction that is as timely today as when it was first published.
George Eliot was the pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans, one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, who published seven major novels and several translations during her career. She started her career as a sub-editor for the left-wing journal The Westminster Review, contributing politically charged essays and reviews before turning her attention to novels. Among Eliot’s best-known works are Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, in which she explores aspects of human psychology, focusing on the rural outsider and the politics of small-town life. Eliot died in 1880.
Francine Prose is the author of twenty-one works of fiction, including Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, she is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.
In Reading Like a Writer, Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why their work has endured. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot's Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to Flannery O'Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield for clever examples of how to employ gesture to create character. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted.
Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart.
Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal denizens, including the rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine.
As the years pass, their fortunes—and the world itself—evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis—sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more.
‘People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbours.’
An epic study of provincial life at a time when England was facing rapid industrialization and increasingly fluid social mobility, Eliot’s depiction of the small community of Middlemarch weaves an intricate web of different characters disparate lives as they strive to adapt to the changing world around them. Eliot was one of the first of her female contemporaries to write a novel that dealt with real-life issues and complex yet ordinary human life.