Mary's Library

Sunday, June 11, 2006

What I'm Reading

Yesterday in Spokane was one of those perfect cat-in-the-lap, tea-drinking, listen-to-the-rain days when reading is the only possible civilized pastime. I picked up the Kathryn Hughes biography, George Eliot: The Last Victorian (©1998) which I put aside a couple of weeks ago and suddenly it grabbed me and held tight.

What a complex creature was Mary Anne Evans/Marian Lewes/George Eliot/Mrs Cross. She had a new name for each part of her life, from dutiful daughter to journalist to wicked woman living in sin to novelist to (finally) married woman.

Like so many great writers she had a spouse who protected her from a clamoring public and from unfavorable reviews of her books. The world tends to lament that George Henry Lewes was married and could not get a divorce so that George Eliot in order to live with him cut herself off from “society.” But I think it deepened their love for one another. It freed Eliot from the time-wasting round of calls and shallow female chit-chat that was required of most women of her day.

We are going to the Civic Theater today to see "The Music Man," but this evening I will likely finish the Hughes book. And then I'll move on to one of Eliot's novels instead of William Makepeace Thackeray's Barry Lyndon (1844), which I should be reading for my not-trollope group. (Sorry, y'all.)


At 2:41 PM PDT , Blogger Lisa Guidarini said...

Aha, another who has enjoyed this wonderful bio of Eliot! So glad to hear that. I thought it one of the finest biographies I've read ever, and a great one on its subject. So glad you liked it.


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