I always feel like giving myself a nice round of applause and a hearty pat on the back when I complete an 800+ page Victorian era British novel. I enjoy them, but they are a piece of work to read sometimes. Middlemarch is one of the more complex novels I've ever read. There are several plots going on at once, and it took a while to get into it and figure things out. There were also a few ultra long (and boring) descriptions on politics that I found myself slogging through, and I'll admit that I glanced ahead to see when things would get good again a few times and speed read through the worst parts.
But it was all worth it! This book is descriptive and emotional. By the time I got into it I was hooked. I was so personally invested in the characters' lives and stories that I had a hard time dragging myself away for such menial tasks as feeding children. I was so attached to one story in particular that I cried a couple of times (am I allowed to admit that on this blog?) and even *gasp* dogeared a couple of pages that I found particularly heartwrenching so I could go back and read them again later.
Like Dickens, George Eliot (who is a woman, by the way) captures the lives of people from a wide range of backgrounds. No one in the small town of Middlemarch is exempt from being affected by the main characters or affecting them in turn. The plot is woven together seamlessly. I have serious admiration for any author who can write like this.
There is a Middlemarch movie, made in 1994, which is waiting for me at the library. I'll let you know what I think. Even better, though, they are making a brand new Middlemarch which should make an appearance on Masterpiece in a year or two. Andrew Davies is doing the screenplay (1995 Pride & Prejudice, 1996 Emma, 1999 Wives & Daughters, 2005 Bleak House, 2008 Sense and Sensibility, 2008 Little Dorrit), so you can imagine that I'm very excited to see the results of that!