The Mill on the Floss

Title: The Mill on the Floss
Author: George Elliot
Pub: 1860; Penguin
Pages: 579
Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction,


The fact that this was **the first** book that I finished this year and it happens to be May when I'm writing it proves just how ridiculous things have gotten in my own little camp of the world.(1)  I jotted down lots of jumbled thoughts and emoticons and various other marks that I can barely make any understanding of now...but you know such is how things go and 'tis why I share my thoughts and don't get paid for this biblio-refuge.

Can I be honest and utterly embarrassed? I totally expected this to turn into a love story between Maggie and Philip and sure that love was expressed but Holy Victorian Ideologies Batman, there was so much more going on in here than what I initially expected.

Bottom line, I seriously doubt this is a character that I will love more than Maggie Tulliver.  She is blunt and curious and high-spirited and SUCH a voracious reader.  And yet as much as she emulates what would be categorized as "male" traits, she is very endearing and loving.  Quite frankly, she's a modern-day woman living in the 19th century.  When we first meet her she is a young (I want to say eight but I'm truly pulling that number out of the sky), and man does Elliot flesh out the child!  Her and Tom (who is so irksome and Mr. Judgey that I just want to pop him in the mouth) have this obvious sibling thing going on, except because it's Victorian, Mags always gives in to him.  And it's like, I get why she does that.  She's been raised to think for herself sure, but adores her older brother.  It's just Tom can be SUCH an asshat sometimes he totally takes for granted who she is and how ah-MAY-zing Mags can be.

Oh and there's so much here.  Maggie takes a liking to Philip who is crippled but brilliant and there's soap opera drama because Philip's dad is ultimately the reason why Maggie's family is broke.  And of course Tom doesn't like Philip because he is bright -as in oh so much smarter than him - and his deflated ego can't handle it.

Which is really the biggest problem I have with Tom...his EGO. I mean, yeah, he takes on head of the family when his dear ole dad goes off the deep end and he moves his way up in the hopes of purchasing the Mill back.  I get all of this.  But he's so awful to Maggie.  And for that I can never forgive him.

Left field though?  Two words - Lucy's Stephen.  What the what?!  I know it was suppose to be an easy buy-in.  I mean, Stephen comes into Maggie's life at such an integral point that I can see how a desire and connection could be had BUT because it was foiled with the length and exploration of Maggie's intellectual courtship with Philip I didn't really seamlessly meld into the plot twist.  Oh sure, I totally see how Maggie could never truly be with Philip, and I mean, hell, she couldn't (as the novel shows) could be with Stephen...and yes-yes Philip and Stephen are both obvious foils (brawn vs brains anyone?) but damn if it just didn't make me find Tom more vile.

I glanced at some criticism on Maggie's character and often her immaturity comes up.  Seriously?  Do I sound like this annoying fangirl when I just don't get it?  Sure, sure, she behaves in some petulant ways as a child but I find her to be a lot more giving and compassionate than most.  Someone argue with me.  Someone point me to an instance where Maggie exhibited over the top immaturity, rather than a natural reaction that quickly got put into check.

People!  There is still so much more to talk about.  How about those family relationships. The Dodsons ladies made my skin writhe.  If living today, I imagine their house being filled with rooms on display and furniture covered with plastic so as not to ever get the lived in sense.  Quite the opposite, the Tullivers, present day, would have family barbeques on a family/employee day and drink Bud Lite.

Oh my gosh and I cannot even begin to talk about how SHOCKED I was over the ending.  I must have read that chapter over and over again.  AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Oh how I wished to have the magic that Bastion did in NeverEnding Story to try to alter the decision.  *shakes head* Mags, I get what you were trying to do, but don't you see how vying for Tom's love and acceptance was always the hubris of your life?

*sigh*  And the finally ending?  The aftermath....the scene in the graveyard?  *sobs* Forgive me while I find my box of tissues....

Well done Elliot.  Well done.

(1) Let's hope in all good faith I post it in May as well.


  1. I read this aaaages ago, and I can't remember much about it, other than the fact that I love Maggie! You've definitely inspired me to give it a revisit :)

  2. Ooh, congratulations on finishing a book!! I read an Eliot this year, too- but it was Middlemarch :-)

  3. Laura - Isn't Maggie THE BEST? Which I must only imagine Elliot puts some of her own personality into the character!

    Aarti - I'm hooked. Middlemarch is my next Elliot venture!

  4. I liked Maggie too, but ended up disliking the book overall, precisely because of how her character was treated. I got the feeling Eliot was trying to portray her as immature, but I couldn't see her like that, probably because I couldn't get in that 19th century, moralistic frame of mind.

  5. I love this book and was completely shocked by the ending. And boy did I cry. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!


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