Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Club Report: What We Thought of Middlemarch

Our book club takes a break during the summer (something I may reconsider this next year) but we like to pick a biggish sort of project to "keep us busy." This year, the book club voted to read a book and then watch it's corresponding movie. The book they choose to focus on was Middlemarch by George Eliot! Can I just say, I was surprised at this!? Yes, it was an ambitious choice I thought, but still, that's what they voted for!

As it turned out, only three of us read it, which is actually not too surprising. I think though, several attempted it and found the language and style to be just too darn hard! At least I think that's what the problem was. I must say though, many of them didn't give it a very fair chance and gave up WAY too soon. Yes, it's true people. Perseverance is the key!

So three of us read it and four of us watched the movie, which meant that we spent a lot of time at our book club discussion this month telling the other members the story, which I find quite fun to do actually. (You did see my review, right?) So we went through the synopsis to try and convey the complexity of this story, and in so doing, I find that I'm thinking to myself, this really is a crazy fun story, yes?

Then we watched (or at least tried to) several clips from the movie. We were especially interested in Rufus Sewell as Will and Jonathan Firth (aka Colin's brother) as Fred.

Here're a few thoughts that we voiced while discussing and watching:

  • Some of us (one of us?) found Will to be quite the drama queen. After this thought was brought out, we watched the movie clips of him and laughed to see that yes in fact, Will is quite emotional and dramatic! (If you are interested in Will clips, here's a nice one on YouTube, see if you agree with the assessment.)
  • We liked Dorothea for the most part, but felt that she was being stupid (to put it mildly) for marrying Casaubon and that she knew better. This fact made us crazy. Why Dorothea, why? We also felt the actress picked for the movie was too old for the part and that the impact of what she did would have been felt more had it been a younger girl (Dorothea was only 19 remember.)
  • We had a blast IMDBing while watching the clips and we thought for a moment that the guy playing Casauban was Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter, but then we realized it was actually Uncle Brooke.
  • It was pretty much a unanimous thought that Fred and Mary are the best and favorite characters from this story. We wondered why, because Fred has many issues too, so why  is he so likable?
  • We discussed whether Dr. Lydgate deserved what he got, or was he an innocent victim and was it all Rosamund's fault? No one seems to like poor Rosy, and some of us felt a little sorry for Lydgate, but I hold to my argument that even though he rushed into that marriage, he truly loved Rosy all along.
  • We talked about the fact that this novel is held up as one of the greatest of all time. We tried to ponder why, but we must all be too clueless to get it. I do know that the general feeling is that she (as in George aka Mary Anne)  has created some of the richest, most dynamic, very real and authentic characters who are dealing with some of the most real and authentic issues. People truly FEEL it. 

Bottom line: I think those that read it, enjoyed it for the most part, but felt it was quite long and there was too much political moments and too much author narration. And I for one, still say to those that didn't read it, do read it someday! It may turn out to be your most favorite book of all time!


  1. I still stand by my thoughts that he is the biggest drama queen. I'm very happy you're considering the summer break. ;)

  2. Oh, no! I have a crush on a drama queen? I think I might need therapy!
    Don't you just love the kiss at the end of the movie? It's one of my favorites.

  3. It was a very fun night, even though I was one that didn't read it. I guess I can't be blamed too much since it was my first time there, lol. :)

    I loved the kiss at the end, but it was kind of anti-climactic. I wanted a more passionate, romantic kiss like at the end of P&P. Oh well.

    I will have to read this at some point. But, not yet. :)

  4. My book club would never get through Middlemarch. I am always careful what books I suggest because there is a small repertoire of books that will go over well. As much as I would love to read this, they rare;y choose classics and it is too long, even if there was extra time for them to read it.

  5. Jenny: Yes, let's ponder that summer thing, shall we?

    Shelley: It's okay, I think I have a bit of a crush too.

    Jenni: Yes, it was a nice kiss, but my favorite is still the one at the end of North and South.

    Reviews: This book club is about half and half with regard to the big chunky classics, so it seems at least one end up on our line up per year. Which is just about perfect.

  6. I like the idea of taking the summer off but having a bigger project to tackle over that time! I've never read or watched Middlemarch, though I'd definitely like to. Interesting to hear how it went over with your group.

  7. I almost forgot to read the post once I say Rufus Sewell - love him! That is quite a big book to get a book club to read; kudos to those who made the effort!



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