Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss" - 1860
As a big admirer of classic literature, I always look forward to another one I have not read, yet. George Eliot has given us many novels, and I have read "Middlemarch" and "Daniel Deronda", so far. I enjoyed both of them, and I also liked this novel.
The first part was particularly interesting, a story about a childhood in the early 19th century, not a poor family, but also not a particularly wealthy one. You might want to call them middle class nowadays.
There is a lot in this book about the education at the time but it is also a great story about a family relationship, not just the sibling rivalry between Maggie Tulliver, our protagonist, and her brother Tom but also that of her parents and their respective siblings. As so often when reading a classic story, I think that not much has changed.
Then there is the love triangle which we see in many novels but here it is especially poignant, makes us think a lot what it means to fall in love with the right person who also falls in love with you and is free. How many coincidences have to come together for a great relationship!
George Eliot was a very early feminist and she cannot deny this in either of her novels. Same as George (or Mary Ann Evans), Maggie struggles with the limitations that are put on girls. In that respect she very much resembles my favourite author, Jane Austen.
The mill plays a huge role in the whole story but the Floss seems to flow aside the novel for a long long time until it comes back in the end to bind the beginning and end together. Not a happy ending, the story didn't really "flow" towards that but I didn't expect this one.
A great read.
From the back cover: "George Eliot drew on her own anguished childhood when she depicted the stormy relationship between Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Maggie’s often tormented battle to do her duty and belong on the one hand, and to be herself, wild and natural, on the other, propels her from one crisis to another. As the Tulliver fortunes decline and fall, the rift between Maggie and her family becomes almost irreconcilable. But Maggie’s biggest mistake of all is to fall in love with Stephen Guest who is engaged to another woman.
Both a sharp and observant picture of English rural life and a profoundly convincing analysis of a woman’s psychology, The Mill on the Floss is a novel that tackles the complexities of morality versus desire."