I have read Eliot before, so I am not surprised by the fact that I still love her writing. While she can be overly descriptive at times, I still love the overall feeling she gives her novels. Her description helps to build the story rather than hinder it. If her writing style was slightly different, her novels wouldn't be so well-loved.
There was a moment earlier today when I had to take a break from the scene, so I flipped to the afterword in my edition to browse and get some more insight. I found that the author, Jane Smiley, had this to say about this novel:
"The greatest pleasure of The Mill on the Floss is its eloquent, closely reasoned style. Eliot seems to perfectly anatomize all of Maggie's inner contradictions and all of their effects, all of Maggie's relationships and all of their consequences. Characters that might seem too one-dimensional in another novel are softened in their effect in this novel by Eliot's voice and insight. But the greatest virtue of the novel also constitutes an unkept promise that the author's intelligence and imagination will find Maggie a satisfying fate," (603).
She seems to be echoing my own thoughts. It is truly the styling of the novel that drives it and makes it interesting.
Anyway, like most of the books I have been reading, I have kept a handy pack of Post-it tabs at hand to mark my favorite passages and lines. And while I probably marked too many, there is so much to love about Eliot's style. Here are a few of my favorites for your pleasure.
"The promise was void, like so many other sweet, illusory promises of our childhood; void as promises made in Eden before the seasons were divided, and the starry blossoms grew side by side with the ripening peach-impossible to be fulfilled when the golden gates had passed," (211).
"The world outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt; it seemed to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did not pretend to love and that did not belong to them. And if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?Nothing but poverty and the companionship of her mother's narrow grief's -perhaps of her father's heart-cutting childish dependence. There is no hopelessness so sad as that of early youth, when the soul is made up of wants and has no long memories, no superadded life in the life of others, though we who look on think lightly of such premature despair as if our vision of the future lightened the blind sufferer's present," (266).
"...our life is determined for us-and it makes the mind very free when we give up wishing and only think of bearing what is laid upon us and doing what is given us to do," (342).
"Yes, Lucy, I would choose to marry him. I think it would be the best and highest lot got me-to make his life happy. He loved me first. No one else could be quite what he is to me. But I can't divide myself from my brother for life. I must go away and wait. Pray, don't speak to me again about it," (498).
"I know that we must keep apart for a long while; cruel tongues would force us apart, if nothing else did. But I shall not go away. The place where you are is the one where my mind must live, wherever I might travel. And remember that I am unchangeably yours: yours-not with selfish wishes, but with a devotion that excludes such wishes," (574).