I’m about to go all English major on you with this book rave, and actually I hadn’t planned to choose this book to rave about but then last weekend someone asked me what my favorite book was. I reflexively responded Middlemarch by George Eliot.
|Mary Anne Evans|
George Eliot was actually Mary Anne Evans, and I don’t know why we continue to use her pen name but whatever. I don’t make the rules, but perhaps it’s time for a petition to stop all this nonsense and give the woman her due.
And, yes, I know. I’m raving about some 19th-century tome considered to be a masterwork of English literature but there it is. I LOVE THIS BOOK.
More than that, this book is, quite frankly, the reason I write. And even though, yes, I was a freaking English Lit major, I didn’t read Middlemarch until after I graduated from college. So if you haven’t read it, you shouldn’t feel bad. The person who asked me what my favorite book was hadn’t read it or even heard of it so she asked me to tell her what it was about. Which I did. I explained the basics of the plot and when I got to the end, I completely choked up and almost couldn’t speak.
Mock me if you will, but the last page of this book is probably the most beautiful prose and sentiment in the English language, and don’t you dare just go and open up to the last page and read it. No. You’ve got to earn it by reading the whole thing.
AND YES I WILL KNOW IF YOU CHEAT.
Because I will look deep into your soul and it will shrink back in shame, and I will gaze into your heart like the all-seeing eye of Sauron.
Yes, the book is long. And, yes, the main character Dorothea can be a little much with all her lofty ideals but, dudes, I’m telling you the investment of your time will be well worth it. And to be honest, I want more people to read books like this because my inner English major worries a lot. So many book reviews I read these days mention that books are too slooooow, and maybe it’s true. But this is the price we pay for character development, and I dearly hope humanity is not getting to the point where it can no longer tolerate long-ass books.
So, please, read this utterly beautiful long-ass book. You will not regret it.
How about this? If you read Middlemarch, then I will send you cookies. For real. Read it and then email me, and say, “I read Middlemarch because you recommended it,” I will send you some of my homemade chocolate chip cookies that will knock the socks off your feet like you got hit by a cross-town bus.
(Also -- and this may be the real reason I choked up a bit talking about this book -- I want to dedicate this post to my dear mentor, friend, and very first editor Sherry Levy-Reiner, who passed away in May. She's the one who told me to give this book a try, and I did, and it changed my life forever. Just like a great book should.)