Mrs Bennett finds in George Eliot's work the beginnings of certain modern developments of the novel, notably her respect for unity of design, her interest in the complexity of human personality and experience and beneath a contemporary naturalism, a feeling towards symbolic presentation. Some of the moral problems implicit in the character-studies and situations best the minds of the best of her contemporaries: some are still relevant. And an awareness of moral problems - a novelist's acceptance of novel-writing as a serious and responsible job - is now characteristic of the best modern fiction. The first three chapters of Bennett's book are biographical and deal chiefly with the formative years. The remaining eight, after defining in general George Eliot's qualities as a novelist, discuss the novels one by one and illustrate the deeper aspects of their author's outlook.
Review of the hardback: 'The examination is carried out with a clarity and integrity of judgement, an acuteness of choice in quotation and a wise balancing of assertion and inference which, taken together, form a model of critical method ... a major piece of English literary criticism. Spectator Review of the hardback: 'Readers of Joan Bennett's works have learned to expect from her three supreme attributes - critical sensitivity, sound scholarship and cogent prose. George Eliot lives up to those expectations.' Chicago Sunday Times