January Books 19) The Mill on the Floss

19) The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot (.co.uk, .com)

This had been the book on my unread list marked as “unread” most often by other LibraryThing users (though since starting on it I have acquired two other books that are higher up that list, Catcher in the Rye and Swann’s Way). I very much enjoyed Middlemarch when I read it maybe fifteen years ago, but

[info]artw warned me that this would be tougher going, and as so often, she was right.

On page 355 of our 495-page edition, the author rhetorically asks the reader, “Had anything remarkable happened?” Well, no, it hadn’t really; and once the actual plot got going in the next few pages, I resented the long long build-up of dysfunctional family background, peasants with funny accents, and stifling society, which could have been much more nicely done in a chapter or two. Then the actual plot bit, where our heroine is torn between the two potential lovers and her feelings for her brother, was reasonably good, and I wished that the first two-thirds of the book had been as well-written. But then the ending is a complete cop-out, and totally betrays the feminist views that Eliot has ever so mildly been subversively trying to hint at in the rest of the book. Generations must have thought that her message is “Women, if you Disobey Your Man, God’s Judgement will Fall Upon You and you Will Drown (or something equally fatal).” I think for most of the book she was trying to say the opposite, but it is not consistently articulated.

Top UnSuggestion for this book: Programming Perl, by Larry Wall

One thought on “January Books 19) The Mill on the Floss

  1. Is The King’s Demons to Planet of Fire the longest run of stories you haven’t particularly liked?

    (don’t worry, there’s probably a longer one coming up…)

    I always wish I could like Frontios more, because it’s got so much Bidmeady goodness, and it’s like Pertwee but more videotapey. But I get hung up on the exact things you identified: Turlough’s unconvincing race memories and the TARDIS. Not only is it implausible that the TARDIS has been destroyed simply because it’s not the last story of the season, as you say; also, there’s the idea that it gets destroyed by having a meteorite smash into it but the meteorite doesn’t leave a giant crater; that somehow the outside gets destroyed but the inside, which is in another dimension, is brought through to this dimension; that it’s then embedded in the earth in pieces large enough to be recognised (and how big is the TARDIS inside? How far would it have to be spread?); and that the whole thing can be reassembled in not that much time, considering how big the inside is. Unlike with a lot of stories, I can’t see how it could be rewritten to make it better; the fundamental gimmick with the TARDIS is just so misconceived, and so much a part of the plot, that the only way to improve it would be to simply write a better story.

    But it was definitely better than Warriors of the Deep.

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