A tale of quiet lives in an early 19th-century English provincial town which engages the reader at every level, from the author's chronicle of everyday details to the most exacting philosophical and moral reflection.
This is a huge, panoramic novel, creating the unforgettable if unlovable character of the Reverend Edward Casaubon, the idealistic Dorothea Brooke, the dashing radical Will Ladislaw, and many others as well. Middlemarch's two parallel stories, apart from their strong characterization, bring out the clash between the old agricultural and the new industrial societies and cultures played out on the battlefield of the English Midlands. Throughout there is a sense of the inescapability of moral judgments in our lives, of the rich and complex textures of the societies we create and of the land we inherit. All these and very much else. Look only at the scene when the proud, middle-class, upright Mrs Bulstrode confronts her husband with the revelation of his professional corruption. She does not seek to minimize or ignore an iota of that wickedness; but he is her husband and she will stay with him to the end. The reader is struck by just how wise George Eliot is as well as by the obvious literary qualities of the novel, and not least that you can romp through this novel as through a 19th-century soap opera! (Kirkus UK)