I knew I was going to like The Mill on the Floss. After all, I have loved every other Eliot novel and this was no exception.
I have already raved about the beauty of Eliot's style. She creates graceful languages that grabs a hold of the reader and sucks them into the story. Maggie was not just another female character-she was a very dear and intimate friend.
So when tragedy struck, I felt very deeply for Maggie. I felt her heartache and feelings of loss as keenly as if she had been my sister or a best friend.
Eliot had a great gift.
I have to wonder why Eliot never seems to have gotten the same amount of fame as some of her contemporaries, namely Charles Dickens. While she wrote and published at the same time, Dickens claimed all the fame, and he is a name that is really well known. And while Eliot is certainly known by bookish types, Dickens still gets all the honors. In my personal opinion, Eliot is a much better writer and far more interesting, especially since she hid her identity and published under a man's name. Perhaps it is because her body of work isn't as extensive, but it is much better written. Again, this is only my opinion.
In any case, I loved this novel.
For those of you who are interested, here is my synopsis.
Maggie Tulliver is a bright and intelligent child who seems to be misunderstood by her parents. Rather than portray the standards of beauty, she is dark-skinned, dark-eyed, and has dark hair. The shame of her mother and her mother's sisters, Maggie retreats often into a world of books and make-believe. Her older brother, Tom, is sent away to school early on by their father, in hopes that he can escape the same sort of life, as his father is a miller.
Years pass and tragedy hits the family. Mr. Tulliver is engrossed in a lawsuit with a neighbor and loses, which results in the loss of every material item belonging to the Tulliver's. Together, Maggie and Tom have to face the circumstances now thrust in their faces. Giving up their childhood, the forge on to create a new life for themselves out of the misery of their father's.
However, fate steps in and rips them apart. Maggie is outcast by her brother, while Tom is obsessed with restoring his father's name.
Like I said, this is one of my favorite Eliot novels. It is far more gripping than Middlemarch or Silas Marner, both of which I'll be reading again in the future.
Finally, I want to post one more quote to help suck you in to this novel.
This quote I loved because I am sure I am not the only book lover who can relate. This really shows the depth of Maggie's feelings about her appearance and the standard of beauty in this time period:
"'I didn't finish the book,' said Maggie. 'As soon as I came to the blonde-haired young lady reading in the park, I shut it up and determined to read no further. I foresaw that that light-complexioned girl would win away all the love from Corinne and make her miserable. I'm determined to read no more books where the blonde-haired women carry away all the happiness. I should begin to have a prejudice against them,'" (377).
Does Maggie, the dark-eyed, dark-haired beauty find her own happiness? You'll have to read to find the answer to that question....
I need to also say that finishing this 608 page novel also helped me in the Chunkster Challenge, where I am trying to read 12 Chunksters (adult novels over 450 pages in length). This was book 1!