Back in October I enjoyed Middlemarch by George Eliot. Rebecca Mead’s recently published book-about-the-book was a delight. Mead read Middlemarch as a youngster and returned to it at various stages in her life, eventually visiting many locations important in the life of the author George Eliot.
Aside from knowing that “George Eliot” was a pseudonym for a female author, I was ignorant about the interesting life of Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot. Mead brought her to life for me. She was intelligent and highly unconventional in a time and place when women’s roles were extremely constrained. She lived with a man who never divorced his estranged wife, and financially supported that woman’s children by another man.
One aspect of Eliot life that was shared by Mead was being a stepmother. Both women “acquired” sons by marriage whom they dearly loved.
Eliot’s appearance is often commented upon. Some found her homely, but it’s clear that many were so charmed by her that they found her beautiful. Mead’s comments make it clear that intelligence and vivacity made up for much in Eliot’s case.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes English novels or is especially interested in women’s writing.