At the age of seventeen, Rebecca Mead read Middlemarch for the first time, and has read it again every five years since, each time interpreting and discovering it anew. In The Road to Middlemarch she writes passionately about her relationship to this remarkable, much-loved Victorian novel, and shows how we can live richer and more fulfilling lives through our profound engagement with great literary works.
Published when George Eliot was fifty-one, Middlemarch has at its centre one of literature’s most compelling and ill-fated marriages, and some of the most tenderly drawn characters. Its vast canvas incorporates the lives of ordinary people and their most intimate struggles. Virginia Woolf famously described it as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’, and Mead explores how the ambitions, dreams and attachments of its characters teach us to value the limitations of our everyday lives.
Interweaving readings of Middlemarch with an investigation of George Eliot’s unconventional, inspiring life and Mead’s reflections on her own youth, relationships and marriage, this is a sensitive work of deep reading and biography, for every lover of literature who cares about why we read books and how they read us.