Tag: My Life in Middlemarch

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Posted December 27, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 6 Comments

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca MeadTitle: My Life in Middlemarch (Goodreads)
Author: Rebecca Mead
Published: Crown, 2014
Pages: 293
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Rebecca Mead grew up in a coastal town in England and often dreamed of escaping to somewhere more exciting. She gained admission to Oxford and later become a journalist in the United States. When she was young Middlemarch was a favourite of hers and now as she re-reads this classic she is sharing her story along with it. My Life in Middlemarch is told partly as a bookish memoir, but also explores the life of George Eliot and her novel Middlemarch.

This book started off really well; in the prelude the reader gets to discover a bit about the life of Rebecca Mead. Beginning like a bookish memoir this insight into the author gave a fascinating look into her relationships with books, especially with Middlemarch. However as I progressed with My Life in Middlemarch, the memoir elements became fragmented and I found myself yearning to return to this style. I love bookish memoirs, I have been reading so many of them lately and this had the potential to be great but it had two other strands to weave into this book.

My Life in Middlemarch also looks at the life of George Eliot, which allows some perspective about this author. Though I had already done some extensive research. I know that the life of Eliot played a big part in understanding Middlemarch so my autodidactic nature kicked in and I learned a bit about her. I was reading Middlemarch with a reading guide as well, so I had the added advantage of gaining some insight as I read. Apart from access to George Eliot’s journals, I didn’t gain much information; it was a very broad strokes look at her life and I would have gained that information from Wikipedia. I would have been better off reading a biography or her journals instead.

Finally we come to the literary criticism within this book and yet again I felt a little disappointed. I would have liked to know what Rebecca Mead got from the book but instead she just referenced others people’s criticisms on the novel. Having smarter people’s insight into Middlemarch is useful but I would enjoy a personal opinion mixed in with all the references. It reminds me on how I write a research paper for university; I pack it with quotes and references that say what I want it to say but don’t offer much in the way of personal opinion

Combine these three parts and you have an accessible look at Rebecca Mead and her life with Middlemarch but it felt like a huge generalisation. There are some interesting elements worth exploring in this book and I feel like it could have done so much more. We have three interwoven strands within the book but nothing of substance from any of them. This would be an enjoyable book for someone that has not read Middlemarch but for me, I had just finished the classic and I picked this book up because I was not ready to move on.