I watched the 2002 miniseries of Daniel Deronda a while back and I remember enjoying it, but the book was… less so. The first portion spends so much time on Gwendolen Harleth’s story that it left me wondering why George Eliot chose the title for the book that she did. Granted, Gwendolen’s probably more fleshed out as a character than Deronda, but I’m guessing that’s because Daniel Deronda’s purpose in the novel was more symbolic.
I wanted to know WHY this novel was so important (as opposed to, say, Middlemarch which I loved so much more) – so upon reading up on it, I found that Eliot’s sympathetic presentation of the Jewish plight and Zionism was pretty revolutionary for the time. This is also her only novel to take place during the period in which she lived and wrote (late Victorian era). So, knowing her true intentions and what she was trying to tackle I can see why that particular aspect of the novel seems weaker and than Gwendolen’s storyline. She was breaking new ground in western lit.
I will say, I start to tire of characters like Mirah Lapidoth who just are so ~good~ it almost rots your teeth. But they’re everywhere in this period. I had the same issue with Agnes Grey. I’d take a Gwendolen any day. At least there’s an arc. And boy do I love to hate Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt. Hugh Bonneville is superbas Grandcourt in the miniseries. It took me a while to get through, it’s not a terrible novel, just slow and oddly paced.
I listened to the Penguin Classics audiobook version of Far From the Maddening Crowd narrated by Olivia Vinall after sampling a few different narrators on iBooks. Narrators really make or break audiobooks. I highly recommend it. I did this a little backward and watched the 2015 version film version of this story before reading the book and enough time had passed that by the time I read the book I’d forgotten some major plot points. So, it all worked out.
Definitely forgot how cringy Boldwood is. YIKES. Bathsheba remains an amazingly complex and flawed heroine and I’m continually surprised how Hardy manages to write women during a time when they were largely presented in one of two tropes. Angel virgin or fallen woman. You’ll be frustrated and at the same time hoping she figures out what the hell she wants in life. If you prefer more perfect heroines, maybe read something else. You might be yelling at the book, but it’s never boring.
Life has been so busy lately with doing a cross-country move, but I have still managed to keep my reading up with audiobooks. Still living in my comfort zone of Victorian literature for the moment so I want to take this time to blast some of my reviews out. If you don’t follow me on Goodreads that’s where I post them first. Long reviews test my patience so I tend to keep them brief and to the point.
Also, people of the internet… please, stop summarizing the book in your reviews. We all learned this in middle school essay writing. That is all.