- Paperback: 346 pages
- Publisher: Eliot Press (July 13, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1619493284
- ISBN-13: 978-1619493285
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mill on the Floss Paperback – July 13, 2017
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About the Author
George Eliot (Marian Evans) (1819-1880) combined a formidable intelligence with imaginative sympathy to broaden the horizons of the English novel.
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Top customer reviews
Was I surprised. Not only was the book a quick-read, it was fun, exciting and thoroughly different from many other Victorian love stories I have read. Maggie, our heroine, was as plucky, smart and beautiful as one would expect. However, be that as it may, Elliot surrounds her with multi-leveled characters. Even those who are merely extras meant to move the plot or explain society's attitudes have depth. While they are meant as background, still they think and act surprisingly. One could describe them as 3D wallpaper.
I was unable to predict the paths the plot would take. While I love Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, in their books a reader knows who will come to a bad end, who will take the high road, and which characters will end up as a couple at the end of the book. Not so in this novel. Moreover, Elliot's ideas are shockingly modern. Perhaps I should not have used that adjective because not only were the author's books considered shocking in her day, Elliot, herself, shocked the society in which she lived. In addition to the fact that she took a man's name so that her books would sell, she lived for years with a married man. Her life "in sin" lead to an estrangement with her brother. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that her thoughts on relationships would fit in with the morality of today. I was lucky enough to have an introduction which informed me that "The Mill on the Floss" was more than a little autobiographical. Hence, the intensity of love Maggie feels for a variety of people rings very true.
Other reviewers have talked about the plot so there is no need for me to venture in that direction. This book contains sadness and happiness, desperation and triumph, cruelty and kindness. Of course, there is love of all kinds, romantic, parental and filial. Even love between friends is explored. The books ends with action. I held my breath while reading this section, felt sad when things went badly for Maggie and was overjoyed when something good happened to her.
Quite simply, it is a very good read. I found one problem: I rarely reread a book. However, I enjoyed this book so much that I am hungry for not only those books of Elliot's I have never opened but also "Middlemarch", which I read years ago. This time my hungry eyes lead me to a feast. I'm glad I took the time to consume it.
George Eliot is better at describing our innermost thoughts and feelings than any author I have ever read. Why do we read books? A good story is always entertaining, but more importantly, I think we read to gain new insights and to hear our own insights expressed more succinctly and beautifully than we could ever imagine doing ourselves.
The Mill on the Floss starts off almost as a comedy, her dry wit, at least for me, is laugh out loud funny at times. It becomes increasingly more serious in tone and story line until the amazing ending.
Take your time when you read Eliot (if you can). Savor every exquisite word and insight. Her gift in writing about the human condition was unparalleled.
The novel traces Maggie’s growth from childhood to young adulthood and her “yearning for something that would … give her a sense of home.” This journey leads Maggie to a series of hard choices that set her individual desires against family, honor, tradition and small-town English values, or what Eliot calls the “dead level of provincial existence.” It all comes to a flashpoint when Maggie falls in love with the one boy no one wants to see her with.
In contrast to Maggie is her brother, Tom, a boy who “was particularly clear and positive on one point – namely, that he would punish everybody who deserved it.” The siblings' complex relationship lies at the heart of the novel, even more so than Maggie’s love affair. Tom’s unrelenting and self-righteous focus eventually turns its attention to Maggie, with tragic results.
A complicated book that doesn’t let the reader or its characters off easy, “The Mill on the Floss” deceives with what, for Eliot at least, seems a straightforward narrative. (To be sure, the book features about half-a-dozen important players, each with a story of his or her own, but it’s nowhere as involved as “Middlemarch.”) The challenge comes in reconciling Eliot’s take on Maggie’s struggle toward self-realization in the face of societal pressures – or what Eliot sums up as “the great problem of the shifting relation between passion and duty” – with our own, 21st-century “selfie” perspective that values individuality above all else. Even though this is one of literature’s great stories of a woman finding her true voice, “The Mill on the Floss” seems, ultimately, to say that comes with a heavy price that may not be worth paying.
That’s heavy stuff. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to tackle Eliot’s works, this makes the perfect introduction, along with “Silas Marner," before graduating to "Middlemarch." Both capture the essence of Eliot’s style and vision in quick, easy reads. Unlike, say, Eliot’s contemporary William Makepeace Thackeray, whose pen dripped with sarcasm and at times outright disdain for his characters, Eliot loves her creations – even when they make stupid choices – and writes from a self-confessed “strong sympathy” for them. As a result, the reader cares for Eliot’s creations. Maggie and Tom Tulliver will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading this novel.