A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth–Middlemarch–and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.
Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
I debated reading My Life in Middlemarch having not read the book, Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Yet, as a student of creative nonfiction and memoir, I saw Rebecca Mead’s concept as unique and possessing a bit of genius.
Alas, I was disappointed. Not in Mead’s writing abilities, nor the uniqueness of her concept. I expected more, I suppose, of Mead’s own reaction to Middlemarch. After all, the synopsis refers to that work as “the seminal book of her youth.
My expectations on reading the synopsis and other bits about the book pre-launch revolved around the impact Middlemarch had on Mead’s life from the time she read it until she hit upon the idea to write her own book. And I wasn’t expecting so much about George Eliot and her writing Middlemarch.
I thoroughly appreciate Mead’s writing style and her thorough and fact-based research. However, I wasn’t thrilled that the book did not live up to its synopsis or the hype surrounding its launch. I say every man, woman, and bibliophile for him- or herself on this one!
Miscellaneous: Meet and connect with Rebecca Mead via Twitter.
FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of My Life in Middlemarch from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed are solely mine.