"As one comes back to [Eliot's] books after years of absence they pour out, even against our expectations, the same store of energy and heat, so that we want more than anything to idle in the warmth." --Virginia Woolf
From the Inside Flap
George Eliot had no peer when it came to finding the drama at the heart of normal lives, lived out in tandem with the slow, gigantic rhythms of nature itself. The Mill On The Floss (1860), a story of the growth of the moral imagination in its young, sensitive heroine, Maggie Tulliver, restores to conditions of human existence that we can all recognize their actual originality and strangeness, and reveals once again how thoroughly, in the hands of a master like George Eliot, the art of fiction can satisfy our deepest mental and emotional cravings.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
_The Mill on the Floss_ (1860) was George Eliot's third published book (after Scenes from Clerical Life and Adam Bede)and tells the story of Maggie and Tom Tulliver, two children who grow up in the middle-class rural community of St. Ogg's. It's been a while since I've read Mill on the Floss, I think that the last time I did I was in my early 20s, just graduated from school. I got a lot more out of the read this time, I think it's probably a book that profits both with re-reading and age. The first time I read it I identified so strongly with Maggie that I practically skipped over everything dealing with the other characters. I found Tom loathesome and the ending of the book appalling. As a slightly more adult human, I was able to read it for more than just Maggie's story and enjoy it even more. I was surprised by how compulsively I read it. I'd had every intention of stretching it out over several days, but I literally found that I couldn't stop reading it and carried it with me from room to room in the house. I was able to laugh more at Eliot's sly humor and more able to see people like the Gleggs as people and not simply stock appendages of the story. I think what makes Mill On the Floss such a powerful book (aside from the writing style, which is excellent) is this notion of the divided self which is being worked out both through Tom and Maggie. Tom has a firm clear sense of right and wrong and is always being forced to question or do injury to that sense because of his very difficult sister. On the other hand, Maggie can't seem to find the right balance between self-indulgence and renunciation. She can't ever manage a way to negotiate between the sharp emotions that she feels and her desire not to inflict the consequences of those emotions on her family and friends. It's a tragedy that neither of them ever really manage to understand each other and are constantly hurting and being hurt in their drive to do the right thing and be who they really are. Interesting how Eliot plays with the tropes from all the popular women's sentimental novels of the time. A young girl who's unattractive because she's dark-haired overcomes poverty and goes on to attract the eye of the most fastidious and eligible man in town... However, in the world of St. Ogg's (unlike the novels of the sentimental sisters like Mary Jane Holmes) Maggie is unable to overcome her obstacles to happiness and is as trapped by her beauty and popularity as she was her unattractive hoyden girlhood. Given the position of women at the time and the strength of the social norms, it's unfortunately a much more believable view of the outcomes of things. If you haven't read Eliot, I'd agree that it isn't her best book (that's still Middlemarch, for me, and I would begin there first) but it's hugely thought-provoking and honest. It should make many a young woman of today count their blessings and thank the stars that the world has changed since the time Maggie Tulliver was a girl.
I'm a senior in high school, and Mill on the Floss was the most boring book I've ever read. Every guy in my English class despised it, and only a few girls liked it. It takes over one hundred pages for Eliot to get started, and she lacks direction throughout the book. Even an experienced reader is left asking, "What's your point?" It seems as though she tries to say too much (or really never knew what she wanted to say), and it all gets jumbled and garbled into essentially nothing--and she does it all in only 600 pages. If you have to read it for school...I'm sorry. If you're thinking about reading it for pleasure, there are plenty of better books to read.
This is Eliot's somewhat autobiographical novel, and tells the story of Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom. The story takes place in the village of St. Ogg, and at the Mill on The Floss that's been in the Tulliver family for generations. I thoroughly enjoyed the way Eliot depicted the sibling relationship between Maggie and Tom with all of those ups and downs that we all have experienced with our siblings, and culminating in the final finish of the story that thoroughly blew me away. I think I just sat for a good ten minutes just saying Oh Wow over and over again, and then felt the need to seek out my brothers and give them both a big hug.
The joy of reading this novel or any other by Eliot is her gorgeous prose and brilliant characterizations, even with the minor characters. Just be warned, this is not an action packed, sit on the edge of your seat, can't put it down until it's finished type of novel. This is a story to savor and enjoy the multi-faceted characters and the author's glorious prose like a fine red wine or a box of chocolates (or both). If you are looking for high action and adventure, this is not the book for you. Highly recommended for any lover of 19th century English literature, not as dark and brooding as Hardy can be, but the prose is just as lovely, if not better.
There were certain passages of The Mill on the Floss, Proust once told a friend, that never failed to move him to tears. No wonder: In its exact and evocative attention to detail, vivid characterizations and profound understanding of human thought and motive, The Mill on the Floss had an obvious and startling influence on A' La Recherche du Temps Perdu. The Mill on the Floss is melodramatic, sure, but melodrama was the bread and butter of Victorian English novelists; compared with David Copperfield, for example, The Mill on the Floss is a model of restraint. George Eliot creates here an indelible portrait of St. Ogg's, an English provincial town whose residents lead lives "irradiated by no sublime principles, no romantic visions, no active, self-renouncing faith." In particular, she creates Maggie Tulliver, one of the most memorable characters in all literature, whose quest for sublime principles and romantic visions puts her into direct conflict with her neighbors and with Tom, her stubborn, unimaginative brother. The book's tragic ending is superbly haunting, and has helped to make it a deserved favorite of readers for nearly 150 years.