Review: My Life In Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Title: My Life in Middlemarch
Author: Rebecca Mead
Publisher: Broadway Books
Published: January 27, 2015
Paperback, 295 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-98477-7
Genre: Biography/Memoirs
Source:Blogging for Books 


Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarchtakes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

My Thoughts:

"Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it's a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself. There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree."

The previous paragraph pretty much sums up this book in a nutshell. There are certain books that stick with you throughout your life. Books that you read and reread. Books that reveal different things and understanding as you grow. Middlemarch by George Eliot was that book for Rebecca Mead.

Rebecca Mead divided this book into eight chapters just as Middlemarch is divided into 'books' or sections. In each section Rebecca Mead writes about her experiences with Middlemarch and George Eliot. She starts with her first introduction to the book and her viewpoints on it. Throughout My Life in Middlemarch Mead notes particular passages and how these passages relate to her life.

I read this book more slowly than I normally do. I meditated over the pages trying to soak in and think about how certain books have stayed with me over the years as well as the authors who seem to speak to me through their written words. Though I really enjoyed this novel, I found that I learned more about George Eliot than I did about Rebecca Mead. However learning about the author can also help you understand novels a little better. Perhaps this is the goal Mead intended.

Regardless of whether you're a fan of George Eliot, I think most people can relate to Rebecca Mead's story. Books really do have a power over us, and life experience can change the way you read a book. Edmund Wilson once said, "No two persons ever read the same book." I believe this to be true.

My rating: