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After listening to Juliet Stevenson read Middlemarch, I was longing for something more from both Eliot and Stevenson. Happily, I found this novel. The story itself is not quite as tidy as Middlemarch, but that might make me like it all the more.
I hope miss Stevenson will find it in her heart to read "Mill on the Floss" next. For myself and countless others, she has provided a new window into the classics.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Daniel Deronda?
I love Middlemarch and this story has same wit and many of the same themes. Plus Juliet Stevenson is an amazing reader; I have listened to many books just because she reads them. I feel grateful that she does this work!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
This classic novel takes a long time to unfold and requires great reading stamina but Juliet Stevenson creates an immersive experience with her perfectly nuanced reading and nearly 40 hours of imaginative delight have been delivered. It is impossible to praise the reading highly enough. The romantic entanglements and class consciousness are wittily observed. Nothing goes unnoticed by Eliot's sharp satirical eye. The haughty provincial dowagers and snobs are skewered hilariously. George Eliot explores areas of esoteric Hebrew scholarship which are exotic and strange to the modern reader but the subtlety and depth of her characters and her penetrating insights into human behaviour make it an extraordinary book. The prose and poetry of the writing is perfectly cadenced and arresting sentences keep occurring, sometimes needing to be heard twice. I don't think reading the book would have given the emotional rewards of listening to this extraordinary narration.
I was especially struck by the reunion of Deronda , in Genoa, with the mother who abandoned him as a child. She is an astonishingly vivid character who must have shocked Victorian readers. She counterbalances the Zionism of Ezra and Klessmer the musician represents the urbane non religious Jew whose status is defined more by art than race.
This book articulates the yearnings of european Jews as a stateless people and it is remarkable that it was written by a non Jewish British woman.
I preferred the romantic tale to the religious visionary aspects but the novel is a monumental achievement. Strangely, to me, Daniel Deronda is not the most vividly drawn character in the book.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Daniel Deronda in three words, what would they be?
philisophical, interesting, engaging
What other book might you compare Daniel Deronda to, and why?
Not quite as good a story as Middlemarch but more philosophical.
What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Juliet Stevenson is just an unbeatable narrator. She will spoil you and you won't want to listen to anyone else.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Gwendolen's unlikable character was strangely enjoyable and amusing, her speech was fantastically portrayed by JS.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I know that not everyone likes Daniel Deronda, and that some consider it George Eliot's weakest novel. It's certainly one of her most overtly political, and the long treatise near the middle about the condition of Victorian Jews is very hard going.
However, I loved this novel when I first read it, and Juliet Stevenson does an outstanding job with a complex cast of characters with wildly varying personalities.
Deronda is skilfully drawn as a young man who is out of step with his world but can't work out why. He is an outsider who loves and respects the environment he doesn't belong to, and he has a hard time finding space to explore his own vision of life. Gwendolen is a good person who's been brought up to be selfish and domineering. Her tragic life sets her on a path to change, which I think is both believable and extremely poignant -- she demonstrates that a certain sort of human nature is formed for the better through suffering. Mordecai is one of literature's most challenging characters -- a true prophet marginalised by his people. I am affected every time by his conviction and his belief that the world can be changed for the better.
This novel is a long road that starts slowly (like most Victorian novels...), but in my view it will change your life if you're the sort of reader who wants to see questions that matter dealt with by real people who aren't perfect.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful