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If you have never read George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans), I would recommend starting with "Silas Marner", "Adam Bede" or even "Middlemarch" rather than "Romola". Ms. Evans was a powerful writer who seems to have never used an unneeded word or image. If you are under 30, withhold judgment about her literary worth. It will save you the embarrassment of admitting you were wrong after reaching a riper age.
In Louisa May Alcott's "A Garland for Girls", one of the group of young women was reading "Romola". An interesting observation made by Mrs. Bhaer (Jo March) in a discussion about George Elliot's literary merit was something to the effect: "The brain is there but the heart is left out." She went on to praise Charlotte Bronte's worth by comparison.
"Romola" is a book of political intrigue and a series of betrayals: Tito betraying his father, his wife, his father in law, his friends, his country. Tito was not moral or immoral. There was no right or wrong; there was only Tito. He reminds me of Elizabeth von Arnim's Mr. Wemyss in "Vera" or St. John Rivers in Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre". These men were devoid of human emotion and were incapable of love or any feeling. For each, there was only one human being: themselves. For a passionate woman like Romola, the discovery that her new husband lacked honor and was fully capable of any treachery or crime was a devastating revelation.
Gabriel Woolf is very good at letting the listener in on the author's sly humor and her little comic pokes which reveal the character of her actors. He did his homework and makes this very complex work intelligible to the listener; I think even more than the written work.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
This rating is only based on the narration. I will have to get a version with a more subtle voice. I really couldn't listen to more than an hour of this one. I love George Eliot and hope to enjoy a different version.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
A fascinating story excellently read. Woolf?s rich tone of voice and laconic delivery are ideal for this book and, with few exceptions, he pronounces the Italian words authentically. If you know Florence you will recognise many familiar place names and if you aren?t, the book may inspire you to visit this timeless city. I haven?t read 'Romola' since I was a teenager and as an adult I am impressed with Eliot?s grasp of, and ability to render interesting, the convoluted politics of the Medician period. It?s also a ?jolly good yarn?!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
During listening I sometimes wondered if Woolf got bored, suspecting him of suppressing a yawn now and then. Not enjoyable this lulling-the-listener-into-a-doze way of narrating and not getting an understanding of Eliot's meaning in this way. Not recommended.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful