Kindle Surprise: The Mill on the Floss

I’ve had a sort of fascination with George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss for a long time, having seen a stage production of it once as a child. I have only the haziest of memories of it, with the clearest one being a scene in which Maggie was confronted by an excellent Devil, complete with smoke, red-lined cloak and horns.

I’ve only just read the novel and I’ve no idea where that scene came from.

The Mill on the Floss is about Dorlcote Mill and the Tulliver family who live there, particularly the two children, Tom and Maggie. At first introduction, they’re both quite young: Maggie’s 9, and Tom’s 13. By the end, they’re in their 20s.

I liked Maggie Tulliver – I’ve no doubt if I’d read it as a teenager I would have been strongly taken by it all, as I was by Jane Eyre. Maggie’s tale would have greatly appealed to teenaged-me.

I did not like her brother Tom. I’m currently struggling to think of a more self-righteous prig (not even Aunt Glegg), and he did not deserve poor Maggie’s love and devotion.

I’m not sure, though, if I’d read this again. Probably, at some point, a copy will find its way onto my book-shelf and I’m glad I have read it, finally, but I think it would have made a greater impact if I’d read it even only five years ago. Or perhaps it was the occasional, moralising passage, wherein the reader is requested to remember such-and-such and not judge too harshly whichever character is currently under review.

Well, frankly, I think Tom especially deserves all the harsh judgement he gets, and Maggie deserved a far better brother.


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