A New Yorkerwriter revisits the seminal book of her youth—Middlemarch—and fashions a singular, involving story of how apassionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and helpus to read our own histories.
Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town whenshe first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch,regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission toOxford and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through severallove affairs, then marriage, and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which VirginiaWoolf famously described as “one of the few English novels written for grown-uppeople,” offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.
In this wise and revealing work of biography, reportage, andmemoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as wellas the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structurethat deftly mirrors that of the novel, MyLife in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot’s masterpiece—the complexityof love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama ofaspiration and failure—and brings them into our world. Offering both afascinating reading of Eliot’s biography and an exploration of the way aspectsof Mead’s life uncannily echo that of the author herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature whocares about why we read books, and how they read us.