Fear the Future…Middlemarch is coming

Middlemarch.

The name alone conjures terrible images in my head. War and Peace without the War. Pride and Prejudice only less sexy and twice as long. Take a Thomas Hardy novel, take out the part at the end where someone dies, put the writing style in a dehydrator until it’s dry as a bag of trail mix, then you have Middlemarch.

Or at least that’s what I imagine. I don’t know. I haven’t read it.

Middlemarch is  the only incredibly important women’s novel of the 19th century that I have yet to read. Sure, there are a few others I haven’t read  (Mary Barton Little Women) that approach Middlemarch in name recognition, but they don’t have its heft, its oomph. In an arbitrary list of the ten greatest books ever written, Time ranked Middlemarch at #10. It also is the only one of the list I have no experience with.

Here are some of the headlines to reader reviews on Amazon:

A Literary Masterpiece! Try Reading It Again- It’s Worth It!

My opinion? This is the greatest novel written in English

If You Haven’t Read This, You Can’t Consider Yourself Educated

And my personal favorite:

BE PATIENT – gets better after page 442!

Well, those claims clash with my preconception of Middlemarch, which is great! It’s getting me excited to read it. I have made it through The Mill on the Floss and can’t say it shook me with its staggering beauty. But hey! Don’t judge a book by its cover. Middlemarch is next on the docket. It is time to see if this book of grand scale and reputation is even remotely close to being worth the time. The Middlemarch read starts next week.

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