Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Book Group: Middlemarch

Well, even though none of us had finished it in time, we went ahead and had our meeting anyway. Mostly because this month's meeting was a retreat at my in-laws' cabin and who would miss out on a chance to leave the kids behind and spend 24 hours yakking with other chics and watching chic flics and eating chic food? (Yes, we did have Cafe Rio salad. And plenty of chocolate.)

As I said, I didn't finish the book in time--only about 200 pages to go, which is pretty good for a 600 page book. So we watched the Masterpiece Theater version (which is wonderful) until the wee hours and then finished it in the morning. (I hit the sack at 2:00 a.m. but the other chics stayed up until at least 4:00 chatting.) Can I just say that I think one of the most romantic lines of all time is in that movie?

Dorothea: "Don't forget me."
Will: "As if I weren't in danger of forgetting everything else."


This wasn't the first time I had seen this movie (although it is my first time reading the book). But I was a little more mature this time, I think. Before, when I saw it, I was too busy trying to match everyone else to be able to see what it was all really about. Do you do that, too? Try to get everyone paired off with the right person for a happy ending? That first time, I couldn't get over feeling that Dorothea should have married Dr. Lydgate. They both have their ideals; they would help each other, etc.

Now I think Dorothea should have married the curate, Mr. Farebrother. (You see, I'm still doing it. Why does Dorothea have to marry anyone for happiness? Well, she just does. I guess I'm a Mormon. We can't shake that romantic notion.)

One thing that bugged me this time was her complete lack of interest in having her own children. It just doesn't seem to occur to her. I don't think it occured to George Eliot either, for that matter (which explains Dorothea; Dorothea does seem to be awfully similar to the author in many ways). With all her desire for doing something productive, improving the world, etc., you would think she might think of having children in order to give her life purpose, especially before Causabon died, while she was still trapped.

I DO understand, however, the desire to do something more, something outside a family circle, to improve the world. I also understand Dorothea's ever-present guilt at having "too much," and a feeling of obligation to do something to sort of make up for all she has. I feel it too--more in a spiritual sense than in a wealth-sense. But it's still there, and sometimes feels just as impossible to appease.

We also watched Persuasion, since we read that last time. I love everything about that movie: the music, the cinematography, the acting. Yummy, yummy chic flics!

Roger is hoping I've got it out of my system for a while. (The chic flic thing.) I make him watch Pride and Prejudice with me every few years and he puts up the obligatory fuss. (But I know he secretly loves it. He probably sneaks down when I'm asleep and watches it all the time.) He thinks all chic flics are comedies and loves to laugh at all the "characters" (Rachel Lynde, Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Bennett). He doesn't laugh at the romantic heroes, though, so I know he's got his head on straight.

1 comment:

Christopher Bigelow said...

I loved reading "Middlemarch" in my English novel class as an undergrad (actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't get it done on the class's insane reading timetable, but I liked it well enough to go back and finish it later).

This is about fifteen years ago, but I still remember how Dorothea's neck arches in that particular way when she's displeased in some way. (Am I remembering right?) And I still think from time to time about Causabon's "Key to All Mythologies."

I don't think I'd like to be in a book club because I wouldn't want to feel pressured to finish reading a book by a certain time. It takes me 2-3 months to get through the average novel, because I don't read fast, I don't read it every day, and I generally read only a chapter or less in one sitting.