Relinquishing thoughts of a materially rewarding life, the respectably educated Felix Holt returns to his native village in North Loamshire and becomes an artisan. He is a forceful young man of honor, integrity, and idealism, burning to participate in political life so that he may improve the lot of his fellow artisans. Contrasted with Felix Holt is the intelligent, economically secure Harold Transome, just returned from the East to assume responsibility for Transome Court, his inherited manor home, and to take a seat in Parliament.
Both men vie for the hand of Esther, a young woman of charm and virtue, who must choose between a life of idealism and a life of refinement.
The narrative is enhanced by plot twists involving illegitimacy and lines of inheritances, as well as by Eliot's vivid character studies, including the corrupt political agent Johnson; Harold Transome's mother, with her fears of a secret being revealed; and the loyal servant Denner.
"George Eliot's work places great importance on setting...much background is provided to make the 19th-century love triangle come alive. Narrator Nadia May fills the listener in with brisk, breathless cadences, breezing through the lengthy descriptions like a lovable neighborhood gossip. Her crisp accent, pauses between sentences, and mastery of tone help the listener understand the predicament of Esther Lyon....As she reads the text, May seems to be enjoying it herself, which enables the listener to do the same." (AudioFile)
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four and a half stars