Middlemarch

  • by George Eliot
  • Narrated by Maureen O'Brien
  • 32 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.
Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as 'one of the few English novels written for adult people'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Read for its humor & glimmers of female rebellion

I enjoyed the parts of this novel more than the whole of it. Taken altogether, this seemed like a story that could have been told in half the pages while still getting across the main points the author was making. The book principally documents the lives of several individuals, each of whom when young believes he or she is destined to do Great Things. Over the course of several hundred pages, the author shows how her protagonists, either through their own poor judgment or because of their place in the social web (dictated by the mores of Victorian society) end up living pretty unremarkable lives.

It is a testament to Eliot’s excellence as a writer that she manages to make these everyday lives interesting. She does this via a delightful cast of supporting characters and witty asides that skewer human nature generally. I found myself smiling frequently and underlining many wonderful passages throughout the book.

But what makes this book worth reading over a century after it was written is the way it shows the first glimmers of rebellion against the way women were brought up, particularly women of middle and upper-middle class status. None of the women in the book are allowed to fully utilize their abilities, particularly their minds, and are for the most part submissive to their fathers, brothers, and husbands. But this submission does not come easily, and each manages to slip out from under the oppression of her situation in her own way.

[I listened to this as an audio book performed by Maureen O'Brien. She did a very good job of giving the characters different voices, but I agree she made several of the women sound extremely childish, which was a bit annoying. Still, she was able to get a good deal of humor into the reading which I appreciated.]
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- Julie W. Capell "The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history"

One of the greatest novels in the English language

What did you love best about Middlemarch?

Dorothea Brooke is both an original character and as familiar as my own heart. She is a well-educated, upper-class young woman who wants to build a life that is meaningful on her own terms and not by the conventions of society, but she is held back by society's limited view of a woman's role in the world. What else did I love -- the many other complex characters who came alive and who worked out their lives in their own ways -- with or without success.


What other book might you compare Middlemarch to and why?

In bringing a whole society to life and creating characters as vibrant as real people -- Barchester Towers by Trollope, Vanity Fair by Thackeray, any number of novels by Dickens (Great Expectations, Little Dorrit,Our Mutual Friend,Bleak House).


What about Maureen O'Brien’s performance did you like?

She gave each character their own voice, without making anyone a caricature.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Too long! and too complex. It needed to be savored and enjoyed.


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- Naomi

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-26-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios