My Life in Middlemarch
By Rebecca Mead
(Crown Publishing Group (NY), Hardcover, 9780307984760, 293pp.)
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
List Price: $25.00*
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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.
Rebecca Mead was 17 the first time she read Eliot's Middlemarch, and the book has remained a favorite ever since. But critic Meg Wolitzer says you don't have to read (or re-read) Middlemarch to love Mead's new book, My Life in Middlemarch, which is a mash-up of literary criticism, memoir and biography of Eliot. More at NPR.org
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- Explore the parallels between George Eliot’s life and Rebecca Mead’s. In their relationships and in their careers as writers, do they share a common approach to the human experience? Did the social constraints of Eliot’s gender put her at a disadvantage compared to contemporary writers, or did the constraints enhance her imaginative powers?