The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

The Mill on the FlossIt seems those books I know little about and wonder that I will enjoy them turn out to be those most precious of gems.  How sad that Ms.Evans had to rely on a pseudonym.

A family running a mill encounters financial difficulties and lose everything to a local man who is the father of a young man who falls for the daughter of the troubled family.  Brother puts his foot down, sister falls for her cousin’s beau and judgmental aunts and uncles put in their two cents.  Phew…sounds dizzying, yet delivered like a slow running stream.

Maggie Tulliver is a bright woman who loves to read and yearns for educational opportunities not afforded women during the early 1800’s.  She is loyal to her family and denies herself a potential suitor so as not to betray them.  She is introduced to her sweet cousin’s sweetheart and mutual admiration ensues.  Fighting her impulses, she is tricked into an encounter that is perceived as illicit and suffers its aftermath.  A fiery and intelligent lady who chooses family over her own happiness.

Brother to Maggie, Tom is proud and hardworking.  He too puts family needs before his own, but he is more brawn than brains and has difficulty looking beyond what he sees before him.  He holds people to very high standards and when they fail to meet his expectations, is willing to put them out of his life.  A man who never seems to enjoy any personal pleasure.

Philip Wakem is Maggie’s intellectual equal.  He studies under the same teacher as Tom Tulliver and fell for Maggie immediately.  An accident at a young age left him with a hunched back which keeps him somewhat reclusive.  He is a talented artist and spends much of his time in a studio his father has set him up in.  He and Maggie begin to meet secretly after their fathers quarrel and spend much time together.  Loyalty to family reigns and the relationship suffers for it.


A boy’s sheepishness is by no means a sign of overmastering reverence:  and while you are making encouraging advances to him under the idea that he is overwhelmed by a sense of your age and wisdom, ten to one he is thinking you extremely queer.  

All long-known objects, even a mere window-fastening or a particular door latch, have sounds which are a sort of recognised voice to us–a voice that will thrill and awaken when it has been used to touch deep-lying fibres.

It is the moment when our resolution seems about to become irrevocable–when the fatal iron gates are about to close upon us–that tests our strength.  Then, after hours of clear reasoning and firm conviction, we snatch at any sophistry that will nullify our long struggles and bring us the defeat that we love better than victory.  

I am quite sure I’d enjoy speaking with Ms. Evans perhaps while we dropped our oars in the water and slowly paddled on our way.  Such an unconventional woman would appeal to my inner rebel and I’m sure we’d get along nicely.  Perhaps she’d also share some writing tips with me.

My rating for The Mill on the Floss is a 9 out of 10.

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Next up, Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s The Ox-Bow Incident…The Ox Bow Incident



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2 responses to “The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

  1. Ah – I need to read this!

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