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The Mill on the Floss

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'If life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?'

Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family's worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot's most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.

In this edition writer and critic A.S. Byatt provides full explanatory notes and an introduction relating Mill on the Floss to George Eliot's own life and times.

Edited with an introduction and notes by A.S. BYATT

579 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1860

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About the author

George Eliot

2,581 books4,014 followers
Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was born in 1819 at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father's, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent.

Her first published work was a religious poem. Through a family friend, she was exposed to Charles Hennell's "An Inquiry into the Origins of Christianity". Unable to believe, she conscientiously gave up religion and stopped attending church. Her father shunned her, sending the broken-hearted young dependent to live with a sister until she promised to reexamine her feelings. Her intellectual views did not, however, change. She translated Das Leben Jesu, a monumental task, without signing her name to the 1846 work.

After her father's death in 1849, Mary Ann traveled, then accepted an unpaid position with The Westminster Review. Despite a heavy workload, she translated The Essence of Christianity, the only book ever published under her real name. That year, the shy, respectable writer scandalized British society by sending notices to friends announcing she had entered a free "union" with George Henry Lewes, editor of The Leader, who was unable to divorce his first wife. They lived harmoniously together for the next 24 years, but suffered social ostracism and financial hardship. She became salaried and began writing essays and reviews for The Westminster Review.

Renaming herself "Marian" in private life and adopting the penname "George Eliot," she began her impressive fiction career, including: Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), and Middlemarch (1871). Themes included her humanist vision and strong heroines. Her poem, "O May I Join the Choir Invisible" expressed her views about non supernatural immortality: "O may I join the choir invisible/ Of those immortal dead who live again/ In minds made better by their presence. . ." D. 1880.

Her 1872 work Middlemarch has been described by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as the greatest novel in the English language.

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_E...






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Profile Image for Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.).
494 reviews303 followers
June 18, 2010
Upon completion of the The Mill on the Floss, I realized that I had just finished something monumental—a staggeringly amazing literary achievement. This novel, written by ‘George Eliot’ (Mary Anne, or Marian Evans), and first published by Blackwood and Sons in 1860, could have just as easily been titled, “Pride and Prejudice” had not that title been put to use already. Some twenty-four hours after finishing this book, I am coming to the conclusion that Eliot may, in fact, represent the absolute pinnacle of writing in the Victorian Age. This is not, in any way, shape, or form, a “Silly novel by a Lady Novelist” (see Eliot’s essay “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists,” Westminster Review, October 1856). This novel is not of the “mind-and-millinery,” “rank-and-beauty,” or of the “enigmatic” species. This is a novel in the finest tradition of Realism, and I can’t help but think that it must have served as some form of inspiration for the later naturalism of Thomas Hardy.

This book should really be required reading for parents and brothers and sisters. The story of the young Maggie Tulliver, and her relationship with her older brother Tom and her parents is compelling, and is one that we can all relate to on so many levels. It warns us that actions, things said, or beliefs instilled upon the young can have profound implications for years to come.

I suppose in some respects that The Mill on the Floss can also be considered to be the bildungsroman of Maggie Tulliver as Eliot clearly focuses on the psychological and moral growth of Maggie, her main protagonist, from when she was a little girl until she has become a young-adult. It is the ability (or inability) of Maggie to adapt to changes in her own life, and the lives of those she loves around her, that provides the main premise of the narrative. In the spirit of full disclosure, I began to fall in love with Maggie early on in the novel, and loved her more with each page that I turned.

In my opinion, Maggie Tulliver is one of the most engaging and endearing heroines that a reader will encounter in Victorian fiction. Eliot’s raven-haired and dark-eyed beautiful creation manages to combine the goodness, sensitivity, and natural curiosity of Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Molly Gibson;’ the spirit and independence of Charles Dickens’s ‘Bella Wilfur;’ and the wit and humor of Jane Austen’s ‘Elizabeth Bennet.’ Maggie Tulliver has a heart the size of the sun, nearly as bright, and burns just as hotly. She wants to please everyone, all of the time; and it is this propensity to love and be loved that leads to her troubles. Mostly though, Maggie desires more than anything to please her older brother Tom; and, in return, to be unconditionally loved by him.

We see an example of Maggie’s spiritual and emotional maturation in her heart-felt and frank discussion with Stephen Guest, a young man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her, even though he is essentially ‘promised’ to Maggie’s cousin, Lucy Deane--

“She was silent for a few moments, with her eyes fixed on the ground; then she drew a deep breath, and said, looking up at him with solemn sadness—

“O it is difficult—life is very difficult! It seems right to me sometimes that we should follow our strongest feeling—but then, such feelings continually come across the ties that all our former life has made for us—the ties that have made others dependent on us—and would have cut them in two. If life were quite easy and simple, as it might have been in paradise, and we could always see that one being first towards whom… I mean, if life did not make duties for us before love comes, love would be a sign that two people ought to belong to each other. But I see—I feel it is not so now: there are things we must renounce in life; some of us must resign love. Many things are difficult and dark to me; but I see one thing quite clearly—that I must not, cannot, seek my own happiness by sacrificing others. Love is natural; but surely pity and faithfulness and memory are natural too. And they would live in me still, and punish me if I did not obey them. I should be haunted by the suffering I had caused. Our love would be poisoned. Don’t urge me; help me—help me, because I love you.”

--These are the words of a young woman that has finally found herself, and has reconciled the passionate and intellectual sides of her spirit. Arguably one of the most eloquent and beautiful passages I’ve read in some time.

Finally, like Dickens does with the Thames River in his magnum opus, Our Mutual Friend, Eliot weaves the theme of The Floss, the river that binds together the peoples and the landscape of Maggie’s world, through the novel with her use of metaphor and allusion, and pastoral description. The novel starts with The Floss, and through the course of the book it is always there, relentlessly flowing to the sea. In some respects, The Floss represents the things we say, feelings we have, or actions we take that get away from us; sometimes ‘flowing’ past us, becoming irretrievable and lost forever. Ultimately, it is this connection with The Floss that Eliot masterfully uses to bring her readers to the close of this magnificent novel culminating in the great climax that finally defeats pride and prejudice and brings Maggie the redemption she longs for.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
October 19, 2021
(Book 879 from 1001 books) - The Mill on The Floss, George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), first published in three volumes in 1860 by William Blackwood.

The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the more minor River Ripple near the village of St. Ogg's in Lincolnshire, England. The river and the village are fictional. ...

This novel, based on George Eliot's own experiences of provincial life, is a masterpiece of ambiguity in which moral choice is subjected to the hypocrisy of the Victorian age.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «آسیاب کنار فلوس»؛ «آسیاب رودخانه فلاس»؛ «آسیاب کنار فلوس»؛ نویسنده: جورج الیوت؛ انتشاراتیها (نگاه؛ واژه، مرکز، بهنود؛ آفتاب اندیشه)؛ زمان دوره ی ویکتوریا؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز نهم ماه ژوئن سال1989میلادی

عنوان: آسیاب کنار فلاس، نوشته جورج الیوت، برگردان: ابراهیم یونسی، مشخصات نشر تهران، نگاه، سال1368، در 628صفحه، دارای عکس، شابک9646736416، چاپ دوم سال1381؛ چاپ سوم 1391؛ شابک9789646736412؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م

عنوان: آس‍ی‍اب‌ رودخ‍ان‍ه‌ ف‍لاس‌؛ اث‍ر ج‍رج‌ ال‍ی‍وت‌؛ مت‍رج‍م پ‍ژم‍ان‌ ه‍وس‍م‍ی‌ن‍ژاد؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌: واژه‌‏‫، سال1382؛ در108ص؛ چاپ سوم سال1386؛ شابک9789645607058؛

عنوان: آسیاب رودخانه فلاس؛ نویسنده جورج الیوت؛ مترجم: احد علیقلیان؛ تهران، نشر مرکز؛ سال1396؛ در نه و481ص؛ شابک9789642132935؛

عنوان: آسیاب روی فلوس؛ نویسنده: جورج الیوت؛ مترجمها غلامحسین اعرابی، نرگس رزاق‌پرست؛ تهران: انتشارات بهنود‏‫، سال1398؛ در89ص؛ شابک9786007511473؛

عنوان: آسیاب کنار فلوس : کوتاه شده‌ ی داستان؛ نویسنده جورج الیوت ؛ مترجم مهرناز لاجوردی؛ تهران: آفتاب اندیشه، سال1394؛ در164ص؛ شابک9789647541695؛

نقل از متن: (آقای «تالیور» یکی دو دقیقه‌ ای درنگ کرد، سپس هر دو دستش را در جیبهای شلوار فرو برد، تو گویی امیدوار بود رهنمودی در اینباره از آن ناحیه به دست آورد)؛ پایان نقل

نقل از متن: (دشتی گسترده، آنجا که فلوس گسترنده شتابان از میان کرانه های سبزش به جانب دریا پیش میرود و خیزاب زیبا، که به پیشبازش شتافته است، وی را با شور در آغوش میگیرد و از شتابش میکاهد؛ بر این جریان نیرومند کشتیهای سیاه روانند، کشتیهای سنگین از الوارهای خوشبوی کاج، کیسه های پر از دانه های روغنی، یا زغال سیاه و رخشنده؛ مقصد این محصولات شهر «سنت اوگز» است که بامهای کهنسال و سرخ و شیار شیار و شیروانیهای وسیع انبارهایش را در میان پشته ای پوشیده از درخت و کناره رود به تماشا میگذارد، در حالیکه پرتو نگاه گذرای خورشید زمستانی ته رنگی ارغوانی به آب میبخشد؛ در دوردست، از هر سو، مرغزارهای شاداب گسترده است، با قطعاتی از خاک سیاه، که برای افشاندن بذر نباتات درشت برگ، آماده شده اند، یا از هم اکنون کشت نباتات نازک برگ پائیزی، ته رنگی بدانها به وام داده است؛ بازمانده ی کومه های زرین کندوهای عسل سال پیش، هنوز در فواصل بین خاربستها به چشم میخورند، و همه جا، جای جای، درختانی این خاربستها را آراسته اند.)؛ پایان نقل

رمان«سیلاس مارنر» قصه‌ ی جذاب مرد بافنده‌ ای است که «جورج الیوت» آن را در سال1861میلادی منتشر کرد

مگی و «تام» خواهر و برادری هستند که پدرشان آقای «تالیور»، صاحب آسیاب، و مزرعه‌ ی کنار رود «فلوس» است؛ «مگی» دختری باهوش، مهربان و با استعداد است، که همیشه از برادر خود پشتیبانی می‌کند؛ اما «تام» برادر بزرگ‍تر بر خلاف «مگی»، پسری زود رنج و سخت‌گیر است، که بسیار زود خشمگ��ن می‌شود، «تام» فرزند مورد علاقه‌ ی مادر است، چرا که مادر باور دارد که «مگی» دختری سر به هوا و دردسر ساز است؛ سال‌ها بعد زمانی که آقای «تالیور» ورشکست می‌شود؛ «مگی» عاشق پسری به نام «فیلیپ» می‌شود؛ «تام» با ازدواج «مگی» و «فیلیپ» مخالفت می‌کند، چون «فیلیپ»، پسر مردی است، که پدرشان به خاطر اختلاف با او ورشکست شده است، به همین دلیل «مگی» ناچار می‌شود، از عشق خود دست بکشد؛ اوج داستان از زمانی آغاز می‌شود، که مدتی بعد «مگی» به دیدار دخترخاله‌ ی ثروتمندش، و نامزد او می‌رود؛ اما این دیدار مشکلاتی را برای «مگی» به وجود می‌آورد که باعث طرد و منزوی شدن او، در خانواده و جامعه می‌شود؛

مگی با همه ی کولى‌وارى، و هوشمندى و ذکاوتش، و به رغم همه ی آن نيرو، و تحرکى که از خانواده ی «تاليور»، به ارث برده، دختر مادرى است درمانده، که ضعيف‌ترين عضو خانواده «دادسن» است؛ تصويرى که «البوت» از خواهران «دادسن»، و شوهرانشان میکند، خنده‌ دار، و نيشدار، و پذیرفتنی است؛ خاله «گلگ»، و خاله «پولت»، و خاله «دين»، تيپ‌هايى هستند آشنا، اينها «گماشتگان نهانى» جهان برون، در درون خانواده‌ اند؛ و اين جهان برون، جهانى است که به لحاظ نظم، و ترتيب، و ريشه‌ هاى ژرف، و پيوستگى خود، بسيار جالب است؛ ملافه‌ ها، و فنجان‌هاى چايخورى، و قهوه‌ خورى، و مرباخورى، و املاک و مستغلات، لنگرگاههاى جامعه‌ هستند، و از دست‌ رفتنشان فاجعه‌ اى بزرگ است؛

بسیار زود درمى‌يابيم، که چشم‌ انداز مرگ، هم مى‌تواند کاملا تحمل‌ ناپذير، و یا آرامبخش باشد، البته اگر آدم بداند؛ ملافه‌ اى که روى او مى‌اندازند، تا در تابوت، او را به معرض تماشاى اقوام بگذارند، اتو کشيده، و تميز و پاکيزه است، و اینکه اموال آدم نیز، بين خواهرزاده‌ ها، و برادرزاده‌ هاى خوشرفتار، بخش خواهد شد؛ اما بدبختانه «مگى» نمى‌تواند، به نحوى رفتار کند، که مورد پسند خاله‌ ها، و شوهرخاله‌ ها باشد، يا به قيافه‌ اى باشد، که آنها مى‌پسندند؛ از اینها گذشته، به لحاظ خلق و خو، و مزاج، نمى‌تواند تنها خواستار وسايل مادى باشد، و به داشتن آن وسايل خرسند باشد، و بنابراين علايق و آرزوهايش، همچنان با اين جهان تنگ‌ نظر، که رود فلوس از آنجا، کالا را، به جاهاى دوردست مى‌برد، ناهماهنگ مى‌ماند؛ و ادامه ی داستان ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 20/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 26/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
792 reviews
July 9, 2021
There are characters in literature who are unforgettable.
Different readers will place different characters in the unforgettable category but I'd imagine there are a few characters who would turn up on the lists of a great many readers: Anna Karenina, for example, Heathcliff, perhaps, Don Quixote most definitely.
You've probably already thought of names to add to the list, world famous literary characters I've either forgotten about or never heard of, but no matter the exalted status of the characters who might figure on such a list, I'm now convinced that George Eliot's Maggie Tulliver could hold her own in the unforgettable stakes—which causes me to wonder what it is that makes a character unforgettable.
Already, looking at my own short list, I see some elements that these characters have in common: being different in their thinking and mode of living, and most strikingly, the tragic destiny they share in one way or another (though tragic Don Quixote is memorable for his comic side too—and he managed to die safely in his own bed, attended by his faithful Sancho Panza).

But back to Maggie Tulliver. Out of the many tragic literary characters I've read about, some of whom are also marked out by difference, why do I place her immediately in the exclusive 'unforgettable' group? And why, since she's such a powerful character, didn't Eliot name the book after her, as she did with Romola, Silas Marner, Adam Bede, Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda?
When I reached the end of the book, I understood Eliot's choice of title better. It's actually a very fine title: The Mill on the Floss. Not only is there a lilting music to it, it also embodies the essence of the story: the intense love Maggie felt throughout her life for her childhood home by the river. Indeed, there are some beautiful lines about the connections people feel to a 'place' in this book, the thoughts, for example, that Eliot gives Maggie's father, and which could well have been Maggie's thoughts too, at an older age:
He couldn't bear to think of himself living on any other spot than this, where he knew the sound of every gate door, and felt that the shape and color of every roof and weather-stain and broken hillock was good, because his growing senses had been fed on them.

Maggie's growing senses are central to the power she holds as a character, and they are the reason she is unforgettable. She lives almost as if she had no membrane to shield her nerve endings, she feels every moment of life with huge intensity—in great contrast to her extended family, the Gleggs and the Pullets, and their paltry preoccupations with nest eggs and feather mattresses.

We get an inkling of Maggie's unusual sensitivity at the very beginning of the book which opens with an unnamed narrator dozing in an armchair, dreamily recalling a child seen years before, a little dark-haired girl standing by the mill on the river Floss, staring intently into the water. Our attention is fixed firmly on dark-haired Maggie from that moment, and the narrator's meditation about the swollen river, which begins as a simple description of the water but segues into what could be the thoughts of the child contemplating it, traces the arc of the story in a few simple lines: The stream is brimful now, and lies high in this little withy plantation, and half drowns the grassy fringe of the croft in front of the house. As I look at the full stream, the vivid grass, the delicate bright-green powder softening the outline of the great trunks and branches that gleam from under the bare purple boughs I am in love with moistness, and envy the white ducks that are dipping their heads far into the water here among the withes, unmindful of the awkward appearance they make in the drier world above .
(Incidentally, the narrator then disappears as a 'character', and we find ourselves in an omniscient narration. We never discover who the narrator is, this person who claimed to remember Maggie as a child, but we understand that it is the same narrator nevertheless who continues to tell us Maggie's story because twice in the course of the tale, the narrator gives a sign of his/her presence with an 'I' statement, quite like the mysterious way Henry James sometimes slips an 'I' statement into an omniscient narrative).

So, from the beginning, our attention is on dark-haired Maggie, the girl who will later say:
I'm determined to read no more books where the blond-haired women carry away all the happiness. If you could give me some story where the dark woman triumphs, it would restore the balance. I want to avenge all the dark unhappy ones.."

The reader is completely behind Maggie in this desire to see the dark woman triumph. And dark-haired Maggie does triumph, the river playing an unexpected role in her victory. But the terrible irony is that Maggie cannot bear to triumph at the cost of the blond woman's happiness, and the mill and the river become her refuge in the end as they were in the beginning.
A perfect story with a perfect title.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
January 21, 2023
I had heard of George Eliot as a classic to read. My first surprise was to discover that, like George Sand, George Elliott was, in fact, a woman. But that wasn't the only good surprise. The writing is modern while remaining classic, of the Proust before the hour. Like its author, the theme is avant-garde, who drew much from his life to write his main character. The actors in the book are not Manichean but complex, allowing us all the better to identify with their destiny. With a stunning finale, this book has all of a modern adventure. It wraps in classicism.
Profile Image for Rebecca Schneider.
672 reviews28 followers
March 5, 2008
I suspect between this novel and Middlemarch, George Eliot is becoming my favorite nineteenth-century novelist. I wish she were still alive so that I could write her fan letters.

The Mill on the Floss is funny and moving and philosophical. Eliot does so many different things well; she's witty and detached, and then she writes a love scene that makes your knees go wobbly. Middlemarch struck me the same way - it's incredibly romantic, and then it does things with that romance, crazy thematic plot things, that sometimes make you feel like the author has punched you in the stomach.

I think George Eliot and Joss Whedon would probably get along.

The novel is also cool because it's sort of a novel about adultery without actually being about adultery. It feels very modern and unflinching, the more so because George Eliot actually spent much of her adult life in a happy but socially-isolating relationship out of wedlock, so she had perspective on The System.

The last couple hundred pages are incredibly intense, perhaps the more so because I read them in one go on a very long train ride, most of which was spent on the edge of my (not very comfortable) seat. It's one of those novels whose ending is absolutely unguessable and yet feels vitally important; "Holy crap," I asked myself, "how is this going to end, and will I be able to live a happy and well-adjusted life after I finish it?"

I'm still working on that happy and well-adjusted part. The ending... well, is it ever an ending. Words like "mythic" and "apocalyptic" do not give it justice. I'm still not sure how I feel about it - in some ways she gave me just the ending I didn't want, but she did it in such a way that I had to admire. Also, it is very, very intriguing and makes me want to write essays about it, which is usually a good thing.

Great characters, great plot, great themes. A very well-rounded novel.
Profile Image for Guille.
785 reviews1,749 followers
June 25, 2020
Pese a mi apariencia infantil e inocente, esta es ya mi tercera incursión con esta autora.

La primera, no sé qué tienen las primeras veces, fue una experiencia gloriosa: Middlemarch. La segunda empezó muy bien, pero acabó de forma algo decepcionante (no fuiste tú, Eliot, fui yo): Silas Marner. A pesar de ello, no le retiré mi confianza y decidí darle una nueva oportunidad con El molino de Floss.

Me gustó mucho el inicio, con esa ironía de guante blanco (con pintitas, si acaso) que se suele gastar esta señora.
"Una mujer demasiado lista es como una oveja con el rabo largo: no por eso vale más."

"Desde la cuna fue una niña sana, hermosa, gordita y boba, en definitiva, el orgullo de su familia,"
Pero la parte central me aburrió un tanto, y, aunque mejora hacia el final, solo alcanza en contadas ocasiones el nivel de los primeros capítulos.

Ains, Eliot, siempre nos quedará Middlemarch.
Profile Image for Meg Sherman.
169 reviews442 followers
October 14, 2008
Ah, the classic tale of Maggie Tulliver and the four men she loves. How they destroy her, how she destroys them, and how they all end up irredemptively miserable. Or dead. In most cases, both.

So why read it? Because it's beautiful. Because it opens up your heart and mind in powerful ways. Because you will LOVE and truly feel for Maggie. Or just because you want to read one of those stories that makes you think, "See... my life isn't that bad!"

Maggie is amazingly intelligent, but she can't be educated because she's a worthless woman. She wants to save her family from financial ruin, but she's uneducated, so she doesn't know how. She wants to open herself up to friendship, but family grudges prevent her. She wants to follow the man she loves, but in doing so she will betray her best friends and be rejected entirely by her society. Pretty much her whole life sucks--full of split alternatives. No matter what she chooses, she will make herself and others miserable. This all proves that George Eliot is a woman capable of Thomas-Hardy-level depression. (And yes, George Eliot is a woman... don't feel bad, it took me years to figure that out.)

The theme of the story is a struggle between passion (personified by Maggie) and duty (personified by her brother, Tom). Maggie absolutely lives and breathes for Tom's love and approval. However, if she follows her heart and her passions, her brother rejects her... in fact, he literally hates her (and tells her so). On the other hand, if she stifles her own desires and surrenders her very self to duty, she is miserable. And Tom still doesn't give her any credit. If there's one literary character I'm glad I'm not, it's probably Maggie Tulliver.

I was introduced to this story when I saw Helen Edmundson's phenomenal play adaptation at the Shared Experience theater in London (if you're anywhere near London, PLEASE VISIT THIS THEATER RIGHT NOW). Edmundson drew an amazing allegory between Maggie's life and the old "fire and water" witch trials. Centuries ago, some genius came up with a brilliant plan of how to tell if an accused witch was guilty. As everyone knows, witches (and ONLY witches) can float in water. (Duh.) So you simply throw an accused witch into the depths of the sea. If she floats, she's guilty, and you melt her flesh at the stake. However, if she sinks to the bottom and dies choking in water while her lungs collapse, she's innocent! "Congratulations! You've been absolved! Now you can live out your life in... wait a second..." (Yeah, I told you--these people were geniuses). There is no more perfect parallel for Maggie's hopeless life filled with impossible alternatives.

I honestly can't think of a single thing that could have happened to make this story sadder. And the most depressing part of all--it's almost entirely autobiographical.

I'm gonna go cry now.

Profile Image for Dream.M.
507 reviews90 followers
July 17, 2022
سازمان‌بهداشت جهانی، یا اگه وجود داره؛ سازمان تشخیص بیماری های واگیردار، باید منو استخدام رسمی با حقوق بالا کنن.
یعنی تا الان هربار هربیماری اپیدمی شده، هرررررچی، من اولین نفر مبتلا شدم. از اول کرونا هم توی هر پیک من گرفتم. میتونید ازین به بعد مستعان ۱۱۰ صدام‌کنید.
این کتاب رو هم توی کرونایی شدن گوش دادم و تموم کردم. جذاب بود. اولین کتاب از الیوت که خوندم یعنی شنیدم.‌ میدونم کتاب مهمیه و امیدوارم بهتر که شدم بتونم بیام درموردش ریویوو بنویسم. فعلا همین قدر بگم کتاب جالبیه
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 2 books2,962 followers
August 14, 2020
Definitely not my favourite Victorian novel. I enjoyed some of the themes and some of the scenes in the second half, but I found the pacing strange and very slow at the start, and the ending frustrated me.
Profile Image for MihaElla .
228 reviews359 followers
January 18, 2020
Once upon a time I read an article that said that romantic love was 'invented' around the years 1200 by the Troubadours–those persons dressed in puffy pants, walking around and playing lutes, singing about their lady love. By their songs they elevated the woman onto a pedestal and long ceaselessly for her–as a matter of fact– the whole point of chivalrous love being that it was never consummated – considering that the object of romantic love is not really a human being, it’s an idealized image, perhaps a fragmented memory belonging to a person we once knew – but, of course, it is not precisely known if from present life, past life or even future life...As then, as now – it was a sexist age –it was all about a man adoring a woman, and the point was to idealize the beloved but never come down to earth for love’s trials and tribulations.
On a deeper level, if a true search is done, we might be surprised to learn that – not the fact that romantic love didn’t exist before that time (hard to conceive of that, truly) – those people who invented it, were actually singing to God (a god, or a deity, or whatever had some supernatural powers), not a woman. I find this more fascinating and, in a way, quite normal. Times however perverted this sort of “love” and romantic love reached to be cover-up for a yearning that is spiritual, not necessarily a desire for a human person. The essence of romantic love is more about pinning – pointing towards something that’s actually not achievable on a physical plane. One is in pain longing for this ‘perfect person’ who doesn’t exist and can’t have. And, as ever, I find Kahlil Gibran’s quote resonating better, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Having to deal with pain, not necessarily a suffering of the body, then something deep breaks your heart and then you get an opportunity – hopefully if it is not missed – to understand, and to develop compassion for yourself and others pain and suffering, struggles and battles. And then, as the cherry on top of the pie, love starts becoming available and let loose of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
The first innocence is going to go, has to go. And it is good that it goes. IF it continues, one will not really be a ‘man = human’. Nature lives in the first innocence, only man is capable of losing it. In a way, it is a great dignity, it is a glory – as only man is capable of committing ‘sin’, no other animal can. Except for man, all the animals, birds and trees still exist in the Garden of Eden – they never left it actually. That’s why nature has such beauty, such peace, such silence. As it looks, to be satisfied with the first “innocence” is to remain unconscious. However, Life being hard and difficult – as so it has been propagated down the centuries - it is only by going wrong that consciousness arises. But, going wrong is not really going wrong, because only through it does the consciousness arise. All has to be lost. Well, symbolically to be lost it is always much better or preferred, rather than in a tangible sort of way. A flood, an over-flood however is really powerful. It can wash away everything and make it pure, crystal clear from the scratch – theoretically we can assume it, practically it is never so pure anymore, never a smooth surface, never a clear shinning layer…So, this is where Maggie is heading towards – she has to come to the point where all is lost, God is lost, heaven is lost – one cannot believe in paradise, and one cannot believe that innocence is possible. Only from that peak of frustration, anguish, anxiety is there a possibility of a one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn.
The first innocence is always with the child – as a matter of fact, you can always see happiness around him/her. The child is the first kind of hedonist – if there is a belief (certainly, it has one) – then there is eating, drinking and being merry, living the moment, no clouds yet – his sky is clear.
Growing up – the human goes into a chaos. The old cosmos, the old/first innocence simply falls into pieces; not even a trace is left. Maggie became interested in higher things, in knowing things. We may doubtless say she ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and she started becoming more conscious. She started trying to understand what this/her reality is, moving into knowing and suddenly the doors of the Garden are closed for her. Suddenly she finds herself outside the Garden, and she does not know where the way back is – well, at least for a transient period – she has to go farther and farther away.
But, even for an old-fashioned family, the vision of life is/can be far more complete- even if superficially it seems it is linear: unity, then complexity, then concentration, then direction. And the direction goes on and on, the arrow goes on for infinity, it never comes back. That is how the family story seems to go…this is logical but not natural. Nature, on the other hand, moves in a circle, seasons move in a circle, stars move in a circle, man’s life moves in a circle. Everything moves in a circle, not in a line. The circle is the way of the nature. This is well emphasized both at the beginning and the closing of the novel. The line does not exist in the nature. Euclid believed in line; non-Euclidean geometry says there is nothing like line in existence. The line also is part of a bigger circle, that’s all. Still, my suggestion is that evolution is spiral – neither linear nor circular. In this way both are joined together, the progress moves as if it is moving in a line, because it never comes to exactly the same point again.
Would there be a conclusion line, still? Yes, certainly. Would be more like saying ‘Don’t go on playing with your wound’. This continuous fingering of the wound will not allow it to heal. And who wants to look at a wound? That’s is to say – better to be happy, become a flower: bloom.
So, there seem to be three things that happened to Maggie: she is in the dark night of the soul, in a very unloving space – basically within herself. That is why she has to be, to feel, to exist in a loving space, but a loving space is anxiety creating: it is conflict, it is struggle, because then a real person enters into your life. And there is obviously clash and an overlapping of the boundaries; and all kinds of diplomacies, strategies to dominate, to possess enter. There is great war – it is the way things are. The loving ones start acting as intimate enemies. But, only out of that experience, does one grow further – one becomes independent. And, assumedly, now there is no need for love. One can live alone, and one can live alone as happily as one can live in relationship. On this level, there is no difference.
PS: Oh, Yes, yesterday it was a full moon in Aries. As per experts’ opinion this is a time to dedicate on themes of power, initiation, self-healing & rebirth. Mostly ‘death & rebirth’ and it is the power of re-generation: the power to choose again, and choose wisely, to change the form all together. Experts, again, say that ‘Death of form’ is a gift because it gives us the opportunity to change what has bound us and limited our growth, that is especially for those of us – mostly catalogued as free thinkers – we could be acting as magicians, alchemists and avatars. And then, we are given the opportunity to journey through a most transformational period of our soul's development. It can be dark and deep at times; but for a good reason (we cannot go ahead without it). It's high time to (re)discover what is hidden so that it can assist what we see in our surroundings. No more hiding, no more shrinking from our creative power. If it is blocked or lost in the chaos then it's time to reclaim it and own it. Magic is all around us - the frequency of change and the dark (feminine) gift of rebirth.
As for my part – I’ll use this beneficial aspect for a bit of (business) travelling to enjoy more of the sun and sea absorption, and hopefully, some of the fine sand – not just dry stones and rocks…It was high time! 😉
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews494 followers
January 7, 2023
The Mill on the Floss is said to be a semi biographical novel by George Eliot. The story is said to resemble some of her own struggles and her deep attachment and yearn for approval of her brother.

Among the various themes of the book, sibling love between Tom and Maggie and Maggie's constant struggle to win the wholehearted love and acceptance of her brother were the strongest. Basically the story flows on the above said theme with Eliot's satire on society closely accompanying it.

The female protagonist Maggie Tulliver struggles with conflicting interests; to be loved and accepted, and to live according to her own free will disregarding the rigid social norms. She cannot have both as they contradict each other. This struggle spans throughout the story ultimately taking Maggie on a destructive path making her character one of the tragic heroines in the history of classics. I had a love and hate relationship with Maggie. At times her actions were rational and just, but at times they were impulsive displaying a lack of self-command. Tom Tulliver, too, aroused mixed feelings. His sense of duty was commendable but his lack of understanding of her sister and his rigid authority distances him from Maggie which ultimately leads to some dire consequences. He was a dutiful brother but not a caring one and Maggie, being sensitive, was driven to find brotherly love elsewhere.

Philip was a loyal and caring friend. He stood by Maggie even though he himself was a victim of her impetuous conduct. He finally understands Maggie's feelings towards him as more brotherly than of a lover and readily forgives her. The sweet tempered Lucy was kind and caring towards Maggie and forgives her for her rash conduct. The self-centered Stephen is a man catering only to his needs regardless of the consequences his conduct may have on others.

The story is somewhat a tragedy, but the author expresses her apology for the tragic ending by finally uniting Tom and Maggie and throwing a hint at the concluding paragraphs that Maggie's yearning for acceptance, approval and love was finally fulfilled. The inclusion of a short conclusion by the narrator fills some questions that were unanswered.

This is a reread for me and perhaps I perceived the story and characters better this time around. Yet, it was such a tedious read and I had to practically drag me through many a chapters. This may be an important work of Eliot. But it's certainly not for me. I disliked this in school. And I'm sorry to say that I still feel the same.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,178 reviews532 followers
March 21, 2017
Maggie sacrifices love for family loyalty in George Eliot's (a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans) semi-autobiographical novel, The Mill on the Floss, published 1860. The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the more minor River Ripple near the village of St. Ogg's in Lincolnshire, England.

In the introduction to the book, A.S.Byatt(Editor) states:No well-known novel contains so much of the author's own life as 'The Mill on the Floss', All the relatives, the humble life, the attic, the marbles and the fishing, the gypsies, the reading and music, the quarrels and affection, the father who loved his "little wench"—all are reflections of her own girlhood. She had a brother whom she doted upon and feared, who often thought her foolish and wrong. He had refused to see her after she married Lewes, so that we may think of this account of Maggie Tulliver's mistakes as a record of real anguish written by a famous Maggie to an obscure and unforgiving* Tom

While Maggie is the main character, the river, representing broader society, and the mill determine the flow and outcome of this tragedy. There is never a moment when it can be ignored or forgotten.

The full impact and brilliance of the book, is hidden in the plot construction, says A.S Byatt:Invent such an entanglement of five human fates that a little child's finding refuge from the cold means the failure of one woman's revenge, the innocent happiness of another woman, the rescue of one man from despair, the prevention of disgrace for another, the escape from torment and at the same time the punishment of a third, the suffering of an innocent wife for the selfishness of her husband, the uniting of two sets of destinies. No, the plot is a masterly contrivance. The story may be fitly called "her most perfect work."

In another review of the book, the person writes:Maggie Tulliver is one of the most engaging and endearing heroines that a reader will encounter in Victorian fiction. Eliot’s raven-haired and dark-eyed beautiful creation manages to combine the goodness, sensitivity, and natural curiosity of Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Molly Gibson;’ the spirit and independence of Charles Dickens’s ‘Bella Wilfur;’ and the wit and humor of Jane Austen’s ‘Elizabeth Bennet.’ Maggie Tulliver has a heart the size of the sun, nearly as bright, and burns just as hotly. She wants to please everyone, all of the time; and it is this propensity to love and be loved that leads to her troubles. Mostly though, Maggie desires more than anything to please her older brother Tom; and, in return, to be unconditionally loved by him.

It is probably one of the most monumentally important books of the nineteenth century, well in cahoots with the subjects in Charles Dickens's novels. George Eliot brought a realism to her work which was traditionally only allowed/acceptable to male authors. The author also addressed sensitive issues, such as marriage and the definition it brings to relationships. It is a sad book for two reasons: 1) the author had to write under a pseudonym, and 2) the autobiographical story ends up in tragedy, like a typical opera. The river Floss, in the end, became the main character that it actually was throughout the book.

The e-book that I've read, had many flaws, which regularly made the reading really challenging. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what this could mean: / "He's none so full now, the Floss isn't," said Bob, as he ^ kicked the water up before him, with an agreeable sense of being insolent to it. " Why^ last 'ear^ the m rni inw n m il i nil nn r sheet of wate r, they_was»!' "^y;'b'tIt]r^sai3'Tom, whose mind was prone to see an opposition between statements that were really quite accordant, "but there was a. big^. flood once, wh en th e Round Pool w as made.~ inEnow there was, 'cause father says so.

However, there were lighter moments, so skillfully created, which made this book a delightful experience. I did not want to change or edit any of the text. It is pasted here unchanged:
Maggie loved to linger in the great spaces of the mill, and often came out with her black hair powdered to a soft whiteness that made her dark eyes flash out with new fire. The resolute din, the unresting motion of the great stones, gi^nng her a dim delicious awe as at the presence of an uncontrollable force—the meal for ever pouring, pouring—the fine white powder softening all surfaces, and making the very spider-nets look like a faery lace-work—the sweet pure scent of the meal—all helped to make Maggie feel that the mill was a little world apart from her outside everyday life. The spiders were especially a subject of speculation with her. She wondered if they had any relations outside the mill, for in that ease there must be a painful difficulty in their family intercourse—a fat and floury spider, accustomed to take his fly well dusted with meal, must suffer a little at a cousin's table where the fly was au naturel,^ and the lady-spiders must be mutually shocked at each other's appearance.
Another application of skillful wit:
It was not everybody who could afford to cry so much about their neighbors who had left them nothing; but Mrs. Pullet had married a gentleman farmer, and had leisure and money to carry her crying and everything else to the highest pitch of respectability.
The unforgettable, but highly complex characters:

Maggie Tulliver - the impetuous, contradictory, and generous young heroine. She denies herself knowledge and opportunities in her quest to remain loyal to her family. Regarded as wild and gypsy-like by most of her respectable relatives, the sensitive and imaginative Maggie does not fit into the provincial society in and near St. Ogg’s on the River Floss. She worships her brother Tom, who judges her harshly and thinks her unreliable. She explains herself throughout the book, and summarizes her own actions with these words:"Many things are difficult and dark to me - but I see one thing quite clearly - that I must not, cannot seek my own happiness by sacrificing others. Love is natural - but surely pity and faithfulness and memory are natural too. And they would live in me still, and punish me if I didn’t obey them. I should be haunted by the suffering I had caused."

Tom Tulliver - Maggie’s brother. Although never quick at school, Tom assumes financial responsibility for the family when he is only sixteen, after the father has lost his mill and home through a series of lawsuits. Tom pledges to follow his father in having nothing to do with the Wakem family.

Edward Tulliver- the father of Maggie and Tom and the owner of Dorlcote Mill. An emotional and hot-tempered man, Tulliver engages in several lawsuits that, in combination with other financial reverses, cause him to lose his mill. Tulliver must swallow his pride and work in the mill as the hated Wakem’s manager.

Elizabeth Tulliver (Bessy) - Edward’s wife, proud of her birth as a Dodson and grieved that her husband’s temper and improvidence cause her to lose her home and furnishings. She is dependent on the advice and opinions of her more prosperous sisters. Her pleading visit to Wakem inadvertently causes the tragic outcome of the family.

(Excerpts used in this review, comes from this edition: Eliot, George, 1819-1880. “The mill on the Floss.” Chicago, New York, Scott, Foresman and company, 1920. iBooks.)

In the end the book deals with art and culture, society and class, gender, compassion and forgiveness, suffering, religion, home, memory and the past, choices, family, and love.

The Mill On The Floss was undoubtedly a fascinating, often challenging read, due to its length and all the different elements combined in the book. However, it was worth all the time dedicated to it.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,566 reviews1,896 followers
May 29, 2018
George Elliot is both impressively encyclopaedic (from Captain Swing to pedallers)and narrowly individual (education shaping young people to be able to do nothing in particular) in this other tale of provincial life before the Railway Age. One lesson here is that"Nature repairs her ravages" (p490) but people don't. The fatal flaw of bearing a grudge is passed down from father Tulliver to son Tom so underlining that The days of chivalry are not gone, notwithstanding Burke's grand dirge over them: they live still in that far-off worship paid by many a youth and man to that woman of whom he never dreams that he shall touch so much as her little finger or the hem of her robe. Bob with pack on his back, has as respectful adoration for this dark eyed maiden as if he had been a knight in armour calling aloud on her name as he pricked on to the fight p266. so to Tom jealously guards his inherited grudge against the Wakems for whom it has all been just business.

It struck me that Elliot must have been a reader herself and I felt was defining her heroine in relation to a dozen others familiar to mid-Victorian readers. A Gretna green marriage or life as a teacher - not for her girl! Neither Villette nor the proper Victorian solution of marriage to the most eligible bachelor that the town has to offer or to the parish priest( which itself as we know from Middlemarch is not an ending but only the beginning of a story for a woman of intelligence) offer any hope here, Elliot is much meaner with her characters. Life for her is work without short-cuts. The plot of the family prosperity eaten up by a court case struck me as a bit Bleak House, on the downside the eventual ending is foreshadowed very early on making it clear that is only ever going to be semi-autobiographical at most. Because the provincial girl we know, did grow up to write a secular gospel in her novels as answer to Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach, The sea of Faith may withdraw, but literature covers the naked shingles of the shore.

Fittingly for a book in which education is a central theme - although the educations provided don't match the needs of those taught in a world in which the central concern is to lend out your money at five percent rather than four whenever possible - Maggie imagines a cross between sir Walter Scott an Byron as potentially satisfying - but maybe Elliot is offering up her own books as an answer to life's problems we have in the vision of the ruined Rhine castles of the robber barons a sense of the insufficiency of medieval attitudes to the honour of debt and repayment in the modern age? Times change. Does Eliot teach us how to live better lives in these changed times?
On reflection I don't much like the great flood she uses to close the story - just as in the inundation myths it suggests the creator has run out of ideas and can find no way of resolving the narrative (having as per above rejected solutions that other authors found acceptable) and so has nothing left but for to wash the slate clean. Despite proposing herself as the answer to unsatisfactory reading, this iss till an apprentice work in which character is stronger than plot for all that she disapproves of Novalis claiming that 'character is destiny' her story seems to me to bear out his suggestion since none of her characters escape the destiny which their characters point towards within this society.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books817 followers
February 7, 2017

Funny how the title of a book can put you off reading it, making it sound boring, especially to your younger self, and how that preconception can stick with you through the years. I felt that way about Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop until I finally read some Cather and I felt that way about this title. A mill as a main ‘character’? And what in the world is a floss?

The mill is a driving force, yet Maggie is the main character and it’s easy to see the young girl as the portrait of a young Eliot. Her love of and pride in her reading is tolerated condescendingly in the community; an intelligent woman is not a good thing, as even her proud father makes plain to her. From early on, one senses the doom that hangs over Maggie, a female dissatisfied with the limits of provincial life, yearning for more, while fiercely loving her home and her family.

A passage about books and reading and a millworker not wanting to know anything of "fellow-creatures" in the wider world had me thinking about Eliot’s continuing relevance, though she is not mocking this man. Eliot is empathetic toward all her characters, telling (and it is telling, not showing, in that 19th-century-literature way) the reader more than once not to think too poorly of this or that character, even one I inwardly sighed over every time she appeared.

Though the ending is beautifully written, and I realize it's of its time period, I was disappointed with it, especially with whom Maggie’s fate is ultimately tied to, as I found the description out of that person’s character, though true to Maggie and to the novel’s theme.

I can’t speak to Death Comes for the Archbishop—I still haven’t read it—but if I’d read 'The Mill on the Floss' as a young adult, I have a feeling it would’ve been as precious to me as Maggie’s few books were to her.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book564 followers
June 13, 2018
I first read Mill on the Floss when I was thirteen years old. It was an English class assignment for my older sister, and, as I frequently did, I stole away to read the book while it was in her possession. I remember being blown away and the two of us discussing it at length, and I have always regarded it as my favorite Eliot, although I have read many others since and consider Middlemarch to be a masterpiece of literary achievement.

The thing is, I came to it this time from a much older point of view, and while I’m sure that the love story and the tragedy were the focus of my first reading, the familial love and the questions of how much we owe to the feelings of others, if those are soothed to the detriment of ourselves, are the central issues I found myself struggling with this time around.

Maggie is quick and bright, but her father, who loves her dearly, expresses a concern that such attributes are not an asset in a girl. Tom, her brother, is not suited for study, and would make a better use of his time by learning the business of the mill, but he must endure the schoolhouse because he is meant to make something more of himself. Frequently we see society forcing round pegs into square holes and wondering at the shavings that are left behind.

No one tackles the serious issue of morality with a more even hand than George Eliot. She does not turn away from the hard issues, which always puts me in mind of Hardy, and she does not tie anything up with a bow to make it seem sweeter than it is. Is there a breathing human being who thinks Maggie Tulliver got a fair shake? At one point in the novel Maggie says to Bob, “I haven’t many friends who care for me.” and Bob answers, “Hev a dog, Miss!--they’re better friends nor any Christian.” I tend to agree with him that a dog would have served Maggie better than most of the people she knew, but the saddest part, for me, was that there were people who loved her dearly but none of the love she received could outbalance the lack of understanding that she encountered so often throughout her life.

What drew me the most to Maggie was her unparalleled capacity for love, her willingness to see the fault in herself, while being so unwilling to find it in others. She is the first, and perhaps only, character in this book who sees Philip for the remarkable young man he is, without any regard for his deformed person. Her struggle to do the right thing costs her everything she has, and yet it is not for herself that she shows the most concern, it is for others. And, she never, ever forgets the bond she shares with her brother, Tom, or ceases to wish to please him and gain his respect and love.

Eliot is a genius at creating real people. There is not an evil person in this book, although there are many, many instances where evil is perpetrated. Wakem is a businessman who sees no problem in dealing harshly with Mr. Tulliver, but he is also a father who wants happiness for his son and makes difficult concessions in an attempt to achieve that end; Mr. Tulliver is a foolish man who acts without regard for consequences, but he is also a loving father, a champion to “the little wench” and a man so honest that his last breath is taken only when he knows all his debts have been satisfied; Tom is a boy who has to assume the mantle of a man too early and who dwells too much on what society will judge instead of his own intimate knowledge of who his sister is, but he sincerely believes he is right to cling to the stubborn, unforgiving past that haunts him and that the most important thing in life is to salvage the reputation of his family, even at the cost of his sister; even the Aunts are so misguided and simple-minded that their actions that seem cruel also seem to rise more from ignorance than from malice. These people breath and exist within the confines of the book, but it is easy to imagine that they breathed and existed outside of it as well.

Maggie is a girl moved to please everyone and blame no one. Maggie hated blame; she had been blamed all her life, and nothing had come of it but evil tempers. But, who can accomplish such a goal? It seems the harder she tries, the more isolated she becomes. What use was anything if Tom didn’t love her? She is at the mercy of others because she cares so deeply for their feelings and sensibilities, and yet life has seen fit to land her in the middle of the fray...she cannot please one without alienating the other.

The words that were marked by the quiet hand in the little old book that she had long ago learned by heart, rushed even to her lips, and found a vent for themselves in a low murmur that was quite lost in the loud driving of the rain against the window and the loud moan and roar of the wind. ‘I have received the Cross, I have received it from Thy hand; I will bear it, and bear it till death, as Thou hast laid it upon me.’

In the end, whether she is right or wrong in her feelings, Maggie is steadfast. She has been given a cross to bear that seems unfair and too heavy, but she tries with everything inside of her to bear it with faith and without complaint. How many of us could do the same? If one believes in only the present and the body, Maggie’s story is a loss, but if one believes in the soul, ah, then Maggie is purged to purity by the fire she endures.

Finally, there is the river. It meanders through this book from beginning to end and it brings with it all the joy and all the sorrows found there. Maggie and Tom revel in their childhood on the river, but we are told early on that the river once destroyed the town and so we know that the river is a duplicitous thing. Not since Dickens use of the Thames, has a river been so integral to the heart of a story, for the Floss represents the years that rush by, the hopes and expectations that are swept away without a trace, the love that brings joy, like the river when it is calm and still, but can be so destructive when it races out of the control of its banks.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
664 reviews129 followers
July 5, 2017
I can't imagine an Eliot book that I wouldn't like, and this one is no exception. I don't think I'm quite as enthusiastic about it as I am about Middlemarch, but it is still an absorbing read. It follows the fluctuating fortunes of a family who occupy a mill on the Floss River (I love alliteration!). The main character, Maggie, is a precocious, imaginative child at the beginning and grows into a lovely, fascinating young woman. There are Eliot's usual philosophical observations on human behavior, as insightful as always.

As usual, Eliot holds up for scrutiny various aspects of familial relationships and societal mores. The parent-child relationship is important, but the one really examined in this novel is the sibling relationship. The relationship between Maggie and her brother Tom is always at the forefront since Maggie adores her brother and strives for his approval for the length of the story. Offsetting this are the strong bonds between Maggie's mother Mrs. Tulliver and her sisters, and that of Mr. Tulliver and his sister. Both Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver's siblings play a big part in the story, especially Mrs. Tulliver's. She comes from the close-knit and very proper Dodson clan, and they are deeply involved in each others' lives. The question arises of how far loyalty should go for a sibling who has made choices of which one disapproves, how much personal sacrifice does one make to save that sibling from the consequences of his or her bad choices?

*** SPOILER ***
When Maggie's family is wiped out financially, she stumbles onto a book that introduces the concept of self-sacrifice to her, and she latches onto this philosophy with a fervor. This shift in focus away from personal joy to the joy of helping others helps sustain her, but, being Maggie, she carries it to extremity. She becomes willing to sacrifice her entire future and any personal happiness to avoid bringing pain to those she cares about. I loved Maggie, but her penchant for self-sacrifice became frustrating to me.

Maggie loves Philip, but not in a romantic way. He loves her and wants to marry her, though, so she regards herself as spiritually promised to him. At the same time, she refuses to actually marry him because doing so will make her brother unhappy. Then Maggie meets Stephen, the almost-fiance of her beloved cousin Lucy. Despite their struggles to avoid it, they fall desperately in love with each other. I found the knotty problem this presented very interesting. Maggie and Stephen impulsively elope, but Maggie has second thoughts and cannot live with the guilt of the pain her marriage will cause Lucy and Philip. The question then arises: what should Maggie and Stephen do once they have fallen in love with each other? Which is more morally reprehensible: to stay quiet and marry people they don't love out of obligation and pity, or admit their feelings, express remorse for the pain caused by this turn of fate, and free their partners to find true love, not just the appearance of it? I have to admit, I'm not sure I would have had the strength of will to deny my feelings, especially after the elopement had taken place and it would be clear to everyone what the true situation was. At that point, the pain had already been dealt. Both Lucy and Philip would know Maggie and Stephen's true feelings. Once they know that, I'm not sure the question of whether or not they had consummated their love, or even married, would matter as much. How could Lucy take Stephen back even if he asked, knowing that he actually loves Maggie? How can Philip still press Maggie into marriage, knowing that she loves Stephen? It's quite a touchy situation, with no easy solution.

I wasn't crazy about the ending. I knew that there would be no happy ending; Maggie's own nature, her propensity for metaphorical self-immolation, precluded that. I read a review that attributed Maggie's and Tom's fates to the timelessness of nature, and how the power of nature forms a proper context for the pettiness of human problems, and I can definitely see that. But there was also a gnawing sense of a cop-out. Maggie was on a precipice with nowhere to go. She still desperately loves Stephen, but cannot allow herself to be with him. Yet he has written her a pleading letter that draws her against her will. She is ruined in the town: she is not acknowledged by anyone of social consequence, her employer has been driven to fire her due to public opinion, and no one else will hire her. Despite all this, she wants to stay close to her family and home, which means either leaving or staying will mean misery for her. What to do with her? Have her die in a flood. However, I feel that I lack the literary talent to question the ending chosen by one of the best writers in the Western Canon, so I bow to Eliot's superior literary sense.

Despite my dissatisfaction with the ending, Eliot's writing is always a treasure trove of beautiful prose and astute observations on the human condition. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Brinda.
61 reviews
November 15, 2010
While Middlemarch may be grander in scope, a tad more sophisticated in its style and perhaps more global in its outlook (despite the title), Mill on the Floss is a raw, action-packed intellectual and emotional thriller. And I mean thriller not in the creepy sense but in the truly exhilarating one. I refuse to choose between the two because I love them both.

Maggie Tulliver is just about the most exciting fictional character I have ever encountered. Perhaps she taps into a subconscious sexism, which is easily wowed by a feisty woman who doesn't quite belong in society, is in fact rejected by it, and yet manages to be so vibrant and optimistic in her thoughts and imaginations, saying these brilliant things all the time and being viewed attractive, despite her miserable lot in life. Would I feel the same way if it were a man? That's probably not even the right question - a false debate to discuss the merits of this novel.

One of the most enjoyable reads of my life. It captures that complex tug of emotions between a brother and sister who are both each other's primitive best friends - relating to each other almost as chimps would, being affectionate, physical, playful - but also incredibly hostile (Tom to Maggie) and extremely oversensitive (Maggie to Tom) . And when social customs force them to make certain life choices, Tom and Maggie appear to be at total odds with one another. So there's that.

Then there's Philip Wakem. I mean, if screenwriters of shitty rom-coms could just take a course in George Eliot they would learn how to write a true romantic. This hunchbacked grumpy brooding young man sweeps Maggie off her feet through his own honesty and loyalty, and, like Mr Darcy in P&P as well as Bridget, loves Maggie just the way she is, in fact, BECAUSE of the way she is.

The drama between the Dodsons and Tullivers - quintessential family tangled webs being woven, with the haughty Mrs Glegg putting family above all, while clearly not putting any loving weight behind that loyalty.

And then there's Stephen Guest and the heart-stopping moments between him and Maggie. The section where they basically have what amounts to a trial lawyer style battle of words and cross-examinations discussing what it means to love one another if it means sacrificing others - pure genius. Maggie's explanation of the different kinds of love - the one that is there purely for one's own pleasure; the one that is there for security and familiarity; and the one that is earned through loyalty and making other people happy: I mean, come on! How ingenious are those concepts, once they are brought to light! That's what Eliot does - brings voice to thoughts we all have but can't find words to express.

The ending of the novel at first felt abrupt and melodramatic. But in hindsight, it was probably the only natural way to end. I don't want to be heartbroken about it - but oh boy, it killed me.

But going back to Maggie: it's she herself whom you always want to read, it's through her eyes we see this life, it beauties and its pain, at once cruel, harsh but also warm, loving, REAL, and ever-surprising. She seems so true and human and in the flesh you feel like you know her in real life - or in my case, you want to know her, you want her to be your best friend! - you feel robbed once the book is over that Maggie is not in your life anymore. I wonder if Eliot saw herself in Maggie - this precocious, naughty, energetic, thoughtful, hopelessly romantic yet also pragmatic young woman - but also imposed Eliot's desires for what she wanted to be onto her ie, beauty and an object of desire. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Mill was Eliot's favorite novel she wrote.

Like Proust, Eliot seeks Truth in explaining the truly inexplicable - those little glances we exchange with people we are attracted to; the remarkable way light can render an ordinary object into a work of art; the warmth felt during holidays around the dinner table; the familiar taste of pudding or biscuits or goat curry your mother makes, which you remember through life; those feelings of loyalty to family and home and place; the deep sorrow in seeing one's family or loved ones in any sort of harm; the intellectual dilemmas that are brought on through romance; the ineffable feelings a great piece of art or music or literature brings about; the muddled nature of most of our problems and views on life.

As a writer, Eliot's style is simply flawless. Hers is that impossible blend of expository with poetry with dialectics with straight prose. A true thinker and artist and romantic who was clearly very present and wide-eyed in the world she lived in.
Selection of quotations from book I liked:

"What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known, and loved because it is known?"

"There is no sense of ease like the ease we felt in those scenes where we born , where objects became dear to us before we had known the labor of choice, and where the outer world seemed only an extension of our personalities..."

"There was a terrible cutting truth in Tom's words - that hard rind of truth which is discerned by unimaginative, unsympathetic minds."

"...her sensibility to the supreme excitement of music was only one form of that passionate sensibility which belonged to her whole nature, and made her faults and virtues all merge in each other - made her affections sometimes an impatient demand, but also prevented her vanity from taking the form of mere feminine coquetry and device, and gave it the poetry of ambition."

"Faithfulness and constancy mean something else besides doing what is easiest and pleasantest to ourselves. They mean renouncing whatever is opposed to the reliance others have in us - whatever would cause misery to those whom the course of our lives has made dependent on us."

"Did she lie down in the gloomy bedroom of the old inn that night with her will bent unwaveringly on a path of penitent sacrifice? The great struggles of life are not so easy as that; the great problems are not so clear."

"...what quarrel, what harshness, what unbelief in each other can subsist in the presence of a great calamity, when all the artificial vesture of our life is gone, and we are all one with each other in primitive mortal needs?"

Profile Image for Lisa (NY).
1,551 reviews603 followers
September 5, 2021
[3.4] Whew! What a saga of unrelenting suffering! The Mill on the Floss makes Thomas Hardy novels seem positively lighthearted. Maggie, once clever and spirited, becomes a beaten down heroine, trapped by the misfortune of being born a woman and the tyranny of her brother. I kept reading because of Eliot’s underlying commentary about society and her witty rendition of the characters - especially Maggie’s shallow aunts. When I finally reached the end, I was glad to be released!
Profile Image for Ana.
Author 14 books199 followers
June 7, 2021
As reservas que tinha no início, depressa se dissiparam. Foi óbvio, logo a partir das primeiras páginas, que estava perante uma grande obra.

A escrita laboriosa e inteligente revelou-me uma autora de inteligência e sensibilidade excepcionais. Distinta. Tão distinta quanto a época a que viajamos ao ler esta bela história.

Mas se diferentes são os modos e os costumes dessa época, o mesmo não acontece com os valores das personagens que a habitam. A lealdade, a honra, a coragem...e o amor. O amor é, em minha opinião, central neste livro. Se a autora se revelou tão entendedora da natureza humana, fê-lo melhor ainda naquilo que é fundamental a essa natureza: as emoções.

O amor, quer fraterno quer romântico, é aqui exposto de forma singular. Tanto a pureza, a sinceridade e a elevação desse sentimento, quanto o seu poder destruidor. O amor singularmente bem retratado enquanto força destruidora, para quem ama, para quem é amado, e para tantos mais...tantos são os seus danos colaterais. Esse poder que o amor também detém, tanto ou mais que o ódio ou a vingança. Mas também a sua força e necessidade, enquanto veículo de felicidade, como elevação do espírito, como intocável, perfeito, etéreo e lindo. Outros tantos sentimentos e intrincadas relações humanas, são de igual forma aqui brilhantemente dissecadas. Uma bonita história... de amor. Trágica e intemporal.
Profile Image for Kim.
426 reviews513 followers
January 27, 2012

It took me a while to get into this novel. This was not a surprise. I remember that it took a long time for my eighteen year old self to fall in love with Middlemarch : a study of provincial life, but fall in love with it I did. And so it was with this book. I knew that it was a well-written novel from the first paragraph. But eventually I went from appreciating Eliot’s skill as a writer to adoring what she had written.

Maggie Tulliver is a simply wonderful heroine. Intelligent, passionate, desperate to love and to be loved, she grabs the reader’s attention from the start and never lets go. She is complicated and flawed and very real; so much more real in her longing and pain than any other Victorian heroine who currently comes to mind. The other characters – both major and secondary – are also well drawn. Some of them may be silly, misguided, obstinate or selfish, but they are very human and very real.

Eliot’s writing is a delight. It is dense but satisfyingly easy to read and once the reader finds its rhythms, the prose is as wonderful as the characters it brings to life. While profoundly dramatic and moving, the novel is not all high emotion. Eliot balances light and shade and darker scenes are often followed by moments of laughter. In addition, Eliot’s satire of family relationships and social conventions is as biting as anything written by Austen. Fans of literary love letters will find an amazingly beautiful example in Chapter 56, which in itself is almost worth reading the book for.

I started reading this novel as an e-book, but after I had read about a third of it, I decided to switch to an audiobook narrated by British actress Eileen Atkins. This was a very good move; there is something about a well-narrated Victorian novel which I find particularly compelling.

Overall, this was an amazing read. How happy I am that it has come so early in the year. This is currently a group read for the Readers Review: Literature from 1800 to 1910 and the group discussion has been interesting and stimulating.
8 reviews5 followers
April 24, 2007
at least this has a happy ending when at last the tedious twats drown
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Milica Stojiljkovic.
356 reviews212 followers
August 21, 2023
Megi ❤️ Predivna Megi, zaista mi je ulepšalo dane druženje sa njom. Knjiga je nekako sve u jednom: i smešna i tužna i porodična i strašna, ali tako lepo napisana!
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,361 reviews795 followers
December 17, 2015
But until every good man is brave, we must expect to find many good women timid, too timid even to believe in the correctness of their own best promptings when these would place them in a minority. And the men at St. Ogg’s were not all brave by any means; some of them were even fond of scandal, and to an extent that might have given their conversation an effeminate character if it had not been distinguished by masculine jokes and by an occasional shrug of the shoulders at the mutual hatred of women. It was a general feeling of the masculine mind at St. Ogg’s that women were not to be interfered with in their treatment of each other.
Pay no heed to the stars. There's Marian (Mary Ann) Evans, and then there's everyone else. The only meaning that four-and-a-half signifies is that I do not feel this to be as masterful as Middlemarch, an achievement few novels and even fewer established classics accomplish.
Childhood has no forebodings, but then, it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.
I have a sister, or rather I have a tie to this world that I will not break. If nothing else, I have her, and when I no longer have her, I do not know what I will do, but those are not thoughts that need be dwelt upon today. It is because of her that I have those "memories of outlived sorrow", and as such this portrayal of siblinghood that only Evans could create cut me to the quick. Not as deep as it could, however, for with my own kindred I share the solidarity of gender, a bond that eases the translation of one's pain from one to the other and back again. I might not be as forthright a feminist as I am today had I a brother in place of a sister.
You thank God for nothing but your own virtues; you think they are great enough to win you everything else. You have not even a vision of feelings by the side of which your shining virtues are mere darkness!
You could call this a romance, a tragedy, a bildungsroman of highest order, but as with Middlemarch Evans writes life in all its entanglements, every lazy dichotomy of good and evil skeined forth in veins that mix and match in that stringent mess humanity has made of life in an effort to live. It is a heartbeat that equates knowing with feeling and seeks to raise both to the utmost, a rare genius that does not excuse its oppression by way of its omniscience. Here is high society, here is high knowledge, here is the patriarchy laid bare with a keen and empathetic glance that transcribed in ink an effort to convey her insight to others, and if there are those who say 'twas a shame the author lived in the times she did, forbear. It's a shame that for all the respect accorded to her in the echelons of literature, for all the phenomenal works she composed in earnest, for all the readers she has inspired ever on, here and there and everywhere she is brought into existence through the letters of her pen name. Marian Evans is her name; you do her no respect by calling her otherwise.
Many things are difficult and dark to me, but I see one thing quite clearly: that I must not, cannot, seek my own happiness by sacrificing others.
For all the gorgeous resonance this novel called forth, for all the strength and endurance of its anti-gaslighting measures that should be heralded in every tale of love involving a woman and/or others with less power in their inherent lot in life, I did not give it five stars because of the ending.However, whatever the anathema accredited to spoilers, it is a poor piece of work indeed which may be utterly ruined by the single turn of plot. As here we have the very opposite, (indeed, I would be amazed if Evans were even capable of turning out a poor piece of work), my quibble is a personal one, and should not affect your eagerness to read this in the slightest. And eager you should be; you'll never look at soap operas in fiction, or or romantic relations in real life, or women, or yourself, the same way again.
I am not resigned; I am not sure that life is long enough to learn that lesson.

P.S. If ever you come across a copy of this book with every single 'George Eliot' crossed out and 'Marian Evans' written above where it counts: it was once mine.
Profile Image for Lizzie.
689 reviews95 followers
August 11, 2014
Five thousand stars.

I don't really know what to say. To me, old novels sometimes feel too emotionally remote, usually the fault of the conservative style imposed on them, but this was one of the most emotionally vibrant things I've ever read. Maggie was such a vivid character that every page she's on feels true. And yet, it's such a novel, with themes so richly built. Because of Shannon's numerous discussions of it for many years, I knew most of the ending before starting, but that only made it even richer. The symbolism is effortless and perfect and needed. (And is it really possible people don't like the ending?)

It was a really visceral read: lots of face-clasping and jaw-dropping. Maggie says some of the truest things I've ever seen in fiction, and it's wonderful. Eliot's omniscience says the rest of them. I was stunned how sharp the commentary was, painful and real. She seems to have known everything. So I felt kind of silly for a while; why didn't I listen to Shannon and read it when this happened to her? But really, it doesn't matter, because reading this felt like it was written especially for me to read in my life right now. Which is how your favorite books always make you feel, right? (It's official. I changed my GoodReads relationship status to "Favorite books: The Mill on the Floss.")

Not every page thrilled me to pieces. The aunts remained annoying throughout; I guess I didn't find them as great a foil as they're supposed to be. My interest slackened a little during some of Tom's sections. But I think it is really obvious to point out: Basically my criticism is, "Maggie Tulliver is so outstanding that I longed for her in every chapter that wasn't all about her." Which, really, is not a criticism at all. It's not like it's shortsighted to write a protagonist so good a reader can't stand to be away from her. (I especially think we should have gotten to see as much of Maggie in school as we did Tom. But still: not seriously concerned.)

Though I purchased a copy as I neared the end so I could always have it, I read it all via DailyLit in 242 parts over two months. One of the things I like most about reading through DailyLit emails is that though most pages can be deleted after they're read, emails with passages I really like I save instead. Just in case. (I think this is the same kind of thing that makes people underline or dog-ear pages in real books, but I've never been able to do that.) So in my email right now I have 5 saved pages of Night and Day, 1 page of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and 110 pages of The Mill on the Floss. For a little perspective.

It is needed.
Profile Image for Carlo Mascellani.
Author 18 books262 followers
June 25, 2022
Due concezioni, due mondi, due universi che, pur parlando, sembrano non riuscire a capirsi. Da un lato Tom, portatore della più cieca tradizione, della ragione che si esprime nel lavoro, del sacrificio che sublima l'onore di un uomo e della sua famiglia. Dall'altra sua sorella Margareth, spirito libero e aperto alle novità, lacerata tra l'amore per il fratello e la cieca obbedienza a valori che sente di non riuscire a condividere e il pressante desiderio di una vita libera, intrisa di sogni e passione, pronta a spiegarsi su di un sentiero consapevolmente scelto e non certo imposto. Solo il finale sembra riconciliare queste due visioni, ma non nel modo che, forse, ci si estenderebbe. Storia intensa, in alcuni punti un po' prolissa, ma che indaga in maniera straordinaria la psiche dei personaggi e il contesto sociale in cui vivono e dipinge un verace affresco della mentalità dell'epoca e della donna che ne faceva le spese più di tutti.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
August 9, 2012
ETA: Eliot can write. She has a great vocabulary, but so does a dictionary.


I finished 3 minutes ago. I will write the review later..... but this is just to explode!!!! The ending sucks. TERRIBLE ending. I think that is one of the worst endings I have ever come across. The ending is unbelievable and soppy. There must be something wrong with me. I simply have no idea how others can like this book, and many, many do. Any hope I had for giving this book two or three stars is gone. I will write more and try and explain after I have cooled down.

TERRIBLE BOOK, just my personal opinion of course.


I am shocked that I react so differently to most others who read this book. I can understand that others like Victorian literature, while I don’t. I find it too wordy, too convoluted and too moralizing. Very rarely do books of romance appeal to me; so few books are capable of capturing true love in all its ins and outs. Finally I am disappointed with the main character, Maggie Tulliver. I wanted to shake her. She was incredibly self-effacing. You saw this from page one. Her inability to make up her mind about what she wanted for herself and from her life, her inability to make choices and stick with them, this is what brought about her own downfall. No, I do not feel sorry for her; I am mad at her.

The narration by Wanda McCaddon was excellent. You knew exactly who was speaking at each moment.

My reviews are highly personal. They reflect only how I personally react to a book. It is clear that Eliot can write; she has complete control over her words. Sometimes I would smile and say that was cleverly put, but on the whole her style does not appeal to me, and the ending tipped the balance from OK to bad.


In Book Five one finds the following philosophical statement :

Perhaps there is inevitably something morbid in a human being who is in any way unfavorably exempted from ordinary conditions, until the good force has had time to triumph, and it has rarely had time for that at two and twenty. The force was present in P in much strength, but the sun himself looks feeble through the morning mists.

(I am a bit unsure if I heard the word exempted correctly....)

I present this for two reasons. To both show you the prose style and to exemplify how Eliot lays out the book. Each plot event occurs. Thereafter follows a philosophical statement concerning how the event should be interpreted. The above is such a statement. The analyses can be interesting, but sometimes I feel like shouting: I can figure this out myself! Not everything has to be explained to me, and not in such a convoluted manner!


Still reading: I keep trying to branch out, and yet I find that I always react in the same way. Although Eliot's writing has its charms, I still get all itchy and irritated with the Victorian attitudes and mannerisms. The prose is wordy and standoffish and so very correct and proper. The veneer is only skin deep - as it should be for those hypocritical times. I am ashamed to say that I get very irritated.

Two things irritate me: the wordy prose style and the characters in the book.

I have taken the time to write out lines found in Book Three. I want a prospective reader to taste the writing.

Maggie, in her brown frock, with her eyes reddened and her heavy hair pushed back, looking from the bed where her father lay to the dull walls of this sad chamber which was the center of her world, was a creature full of eager, passionate longings for all that was beautiful and glad, thirsty for all knowledge, with an ear straining after dreamy music that died away and would not come near to her, with a blind unconscious earning for something that would link together the wonderful impressions of this mysterious life and give her soul a sense of home in it. No wonder, when there is this contrast between the outward and the inward, that painful collisions come of it.

Although I find the writing style "difficult", I am so drawn into the events and feel such empathy for the characters I like that I feel like wringing the necks of the ones I immensely dislike. What does this mean? It means that despite a writing style that puts me off, I am tremendously moved. The despicable actions of some of the characters seem so very real. I have recently had to deal with similar types. Some characters in the book are straight out of my real world. You will recognize them too. That has to be seen as praise for the author's writing abilities. Right?

The book gets me very annoyed. This must be seen as a compliment of the author's writing skills.
Profile Image for Helle.
376 reviews376 followers
July 3, 2015
Mary Ann Evans – or George Eliot – said that without Jane Austen, there would have been no George Eliot. This was in evidence to me in this novel more than in her masterpiece, Middlemarch, possibly because the latter is a much later work (but so far it’s the only one I have to compare with). In truth, I liked The Mill on the Floss as much as Middlemarch.

The story revolves around a pair of siblings, Maggie and Tom Tulliver, with Maggie (who reminded me of Molly Gibson in Mrs. Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters) taking centre stage in the story. Young Maggie is a delightful, willful, kind girl with dark skin, of which her silly mother (reminiscent of one Mrs. Bennett) is ashamed. Fortunately she is the apple of her father’s eye (reminiscent, in this respect, of Mr. Bennett), but Maggie’s hero is her older brother, Tom. Maggie’s love of her brother is deeply ingrained in her, something which is sometimes difficult to understand as Tom is selfish to a fault. The times they lived in were such that Tom, despite his practical take on life and a mind which didn’t lend itself to bookish pursuits, was the one given an education, an education which would have far better benefitted his imaginative, inquisitive younger sister, who had a sharp intellect and who loved literature.

The novel was in part a quietly pastoral novel, centering on the Tullivers’ life in the mill on the river Floss with all the monetary and social challenges of the day, and in part a battle of wills: Tom’s vs. Maggie’s, Mrs. and Mr. Tulliver vs. Mrs. Tulliver’s proud sisters, Stephen vs. Philip (the grown Maggie’s suitors), society/decorum vs. individual happiness/freedom and ultimately the inner turmoil of Maggie’s own conscience vs. her heart. Throughout the novel, Maggie finds it difficult to balance her own desires with that of others. It pained me at times to see how her kindheartedness hindered her from pursuing her own happiness despite the zest for life she had exhibited as a child.

The tone was Austen-esque in places, humorous and witty, and some of the portraits drawn – especially that of Maggie’s insufferable aunt Gleg – were straight out of Austen, who didn’t go out of her way to criticize the relatives of her heroines, though they were drawn as expertly by George Eliot. Unlike any of Austen’s novels, this one includes a wonderful and rather lengthy description of childhood – Maggie’s and Tom’s -, much of which was not only deeply authentic but also quite moving.

I first resented the intrusive narrator, who always would butt in with a comment when I was immersed in a scene, but I gradually got to appreciate the little words of wisdom and the author’s keen, sometimes surprisingly profound, psychological insight. Towards the end I positively marvelled at the intellect and humanity expressed by George Eliot in this novel.

My enthusiasm waned somewhat at the very end. In fact, the ending was not what I had expected; it had something of a deus ex machina resolution to it. And in my view, .

There was melodrama, romance, action, coming of age. There was early feminism, Victorian realism, gentle wisdom, gorgeous prose. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
921 reviews978 followers
April 12, 2020
For most of its length, this was on course for being a favourite but, as the author herself later admitted, the end is both rather rushed and rather melodramatic. But some truly wonderful stuff here.

"In writing the history of unfashionable families, one is apt to fall into a tone of emphasis which is very far from being the tone of good society, where principles and beliefs are not only of an extremely moderate kind, but are always presupposed, no subjects being eligible but such as can be touched with a light and graceful irony. But then good society has its claret and its velvet carpets, its dinner-engagements six weeks deep, its opera and its faëry ball-rooms; rides off its ennui on thoroughbred horses; lounges at the club; has to keep clear of crinoline vortices; gets its science done by Faraday, and its religion by the superior clergy who are to be met in the best houses, — how should it have time or need for belief and emphasis? But good society, floated on gossamer wings of light irony, is of very expensive production; requiring nothing less than a wide and arduous national life condensed in unfragrant deafening factories, cramping itself in mines, sweating at furnaces, grinding, hammering, weaving under more or less oppression of carbonic acid, or else, spread over sheepwalks, and scattered in lonely houses and huts on the clayey or chalky corn-lands, where the rainy days look dreary. This wide national life is based entirely on emphasis, — the emphasis of want, which urges it into all the activities necessary for the maintenance of good society and light irony; it spends its heavy years often in a chill, uncarpeted fashion, amidst family discord unsoftened by long corridors."
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