30 December 2013

My Life in Middlemarch; Rebecca Mead

My Life in MiddlemarchMy Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do the people who write the book descriptions actually read the book before writing, or do they go by a proposal? Here's why: this book's description ("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.") doesn't match the contents.

Don't get me wrong, this is an engaging book that gives readers great insight into Middlemarch and George Eliot, but... the shaping of Rebecca Mead's life? her passionate attachment? That's only about 10% of the book. Another 10% is her reading documents, looking at artifacts and visiting Eliot-related places. The bulk of the book is a biography of Eliot and consideration of the themes and threads of Middlemarch, perfect for people encountering the book for the first time or re-reading it in a book group. It's just not the book I thought I'd be reading, the book the description promised. Hence the lower rating - had I gone in knowing that this was going to be less about Mead's reaction to the book, how reading/rereading at different ages brought out new insights and how (perhaps) others have reacted to it and more about who may have been the inspirations for the characters, it would have gotten a much higher rating.

ARC provided by publisher.

ETA: The British title, The Road to Middlemarch, makes so much more sense!

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