My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Henry James said “Middlemarch is a treasure-house of details, but it is an indifferent whole.” And while I had a blast reading this and want to duke it out with him, I can’t exactly remark on the whole of it without, well, indifference. There’s no great coming-together or falling-apart here. It’s a testament to the incremental. Characters with big plans end up either total failures or adjusting their ambitions to the tenor of their littler surroundings. Reminds me of another M-town I would like to forget. The notion of reform and change in any political, moral and marital sense leads to misery and disappointment. Which is right, but doesn’t exactly make your soul stir. Eliot is a master of the little things that keep us down: the pettiness, jealousies, self-righteousness, obstinateness, etc, which make the book thoroughly enjoyable but not a little unsatisfying because everybody’s buggered.