My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

MRebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarchy Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
Published: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Broadway Books
Genre: Biography & Memoir
Edition: Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN: 030798477X
Source: Blogging for Books

My Life in Middlemarch

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.

Read more here ⇒

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

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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.

Recommendation, redI 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.

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4 thoughts on “My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

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  1. One of the problems, perhaps, with writing a book (especially a book that is supposed to be personal/memoir/self-reflective with a deadline determined by advance payment? My guess is, she didn’t write the book she intended to write because 1) she discovered something uncomfortable or unflattering and became “shy” about exposing herself; and/or 2) she ran out of time, because the process of self-reflection is like a flower blooming. It happens in its own time, and it does no good at all to tear at the blossoms demanding “bloom little flower!”

    So she turned in a book. But it wasn’t the book she promised to write. And the publicity was already full in swing, so the publishers decided to go with it.

    Bad decision, I think. I read enough amazon reviews to discover that a substantial number of people agree with you, that the book doesn’t deliver what its blurb promises.

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    1. Tracy, you have a great way of making someone feel better about having completed a difficult task. This was one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. Perhaps because I know someday someone is going to read my memoir and have similar feelings to express. Your comments expose a side of the writing life some of us are not all that familiar with–big house publishers, advances, and deadlines looming. I appreciate your pulling that to the forefront here.

      It is comforting to know that there are others out there who felt similarly. I feel bad for Rebecca Mead and hope it isn’t the end of her writing life as she is a good writer.

      So glad we’ve crossed paths!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad we’ve crossed paths, too.

    My prediction is Rebecca Mead will weather this without a hitch; the other thing that doesn’t often get mentioned is the traditional/established New York publishing network. Within the established framework of “traditional publishing” there are 2 kinds of writers: insiders; and outsiders. The insiders, if they write well at all, will always get published. She writes for the New Yorker. She (and/or her publishers) can make a few mistakes and those mistakes won’t significantly impact her writing career (unless they offend Oprah!!! 🙂 )

    Outsiders rarely get the same grace.

    Which is not to say that striving to be an insider is the right, or reasonable, thing to do. We all have to trust and follow the call we hear.

    Like

    1. Tracy, you make some very good points here about Rebecca Mead’s position in the writing community in New York. The network we connect to makes a lot of difference. And the opportunities that present themselves to one writer won’t necessarily happen for someone living and working in another locale. Love these words: “We all have to trust and follow the call we hear.”

      Liked by 1 person

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