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My Life in Middlemarch

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A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Oct 07, 2013 – In this deeply satisfying hybrid work of literary criticism, biography, and memoir, New Yorker staff writer Mead (One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding) brings to vivid life the profound engagement that she and all devoted readers experience with a favorite novel over a lifetime. Her love affair with Middlemarch and its author, George Eliot, began when 17-year-old Mead was growing up in southwest England. Here, she wants to “go back to being a reader,” and sets out to rediscover Eliot, visiting the places Eliot lived, studying her letters, and even holding a journal in Eliot’s own handwriting. In Mead’s rendering, Eliot proves a deeply loving partner and devoted stepmother. Mead’s considerable scholarship is accessible and revelatory to anyone who cares about what Eliot calls “the common yearning of womanhood.” Mead, who identifies strongly with aspects of Eliot’s life and that of the characters in Middlemarch, returns to the novel during various stages of her life: as a young Englishwoman finding her way in New York; in relationships with difficult men; as a stepmother and wife; and eventually as the mother of a son. As Mead writes: “There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them… books that grow with the reader as the reader grows.” Passionate readers, even those new to Middlemarch, will relish this book.

Customer Reviews

A fine read!

This books clips along with insights and revelations on George Elliot--well researched--wound into an insightful and sensitive investigation of the author's own life. Love it!
Evocative of Britain and New York, straddling centuries, that of Ms. Elliot and Ms. Mead. A novel used to reflect on a rich modern life.

My Life in Middlemarch
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 28, 2014
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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