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.