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Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)
von George Eliot
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A wonderful book, a classic, an easy five stars. The audio version is flawlessly read by Nadia May, who both vanishes into the text and is highly expressive. Then there is George Eliot. Is there a better writer? Is there a writer who uses the English language to better effect, ranging across the spectrum of both vocabulary and grammar? Then there is her utter mastery of human nature which she treats with insight, humor, and generosity. The plot! Yes, there is a happy ending, but the getting there had some surprises and was great fun. It is a 19th Century novel so there is a pacing and some conventions that are of the era—they are also part of the pleasure of the reading. But it is Eliot’s unerring grasp of our humanity and the values she expresses that make her works so timeless and rewarding to read. ( )
*5 writing; maybe *4 plotline, which is a tale of love, politics, religion, unexpected heirs and illegitimacy.
In North Loamshire, the election (a violent affair, full of bribery and threats) is about to take place. Harold Transome, newly returned to the family estate is standing as a Radical (to the distaste of his Tory relatives.) But why is the estate so diminished, and what does lawyer Jermyn have over his mother?
Meanwhile the eponymous Holt, a principled young watch maker, with a yen for social reform, is on the scene. As he discourses with the dissenting minister, Mr Lyon, he meets his lovely- but shallow? - daughter Esther...
Many twists and turns; gives a good insight into life in 1832. Dodgy elections have long been a thing!
However where George Eliot shines is in her very 3D characters, who are all, good and bad, believable. We understand their motivations and reasoning:
"Fancy what a game of chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning: if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's men, but a little uncertain also about your own; "
The first book I have finished in 2011 is a classic written by the estimable George Eliot, whose novel Middlemarch I fell completely in love with. I found Felix Holt to be an inferior work, but still entertaining and quite gripping toward the end of the book. The Transome estate is in neglect when we first enter the scene, and the stately lady of the house is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second-born son who has recently become the inheritor of everything. Lady Transome has many high hopes for this, her favourite child, and is in a state of eager anticipation when he arrives. Thus the story starts briefly with hope, but delves quickly into a twisted labyrinth of secrets and politics, immorality and goodness, love and hatred. We meet Esther and her father Mr. Lyon, a Radical minister, Mr. Jermyn who is a lawyer and has managed Transome in lieu of a mentally incapacitated Lord and his gambling eldest son, and the man the book is named after, Felix Holt who is of high moral character and, even more impressive, practices what he preaches.
Felix Holt was slow to get into and slow to introduce characters, but once all that was out of the way it developed into a lovely little morality tale complete with romance and politics. I give it seven bookmarks out of ten.
Felix Holt is a surprising triumph for Eliot. For the first time, she engages fully with some of the deeper socio-political issues of her day and age. The plot is almost Dickensian in the amount of intrigue, scandal, and romance, which is a good thing for the sometimes achingly slow Eliot. Despite the (comparatively) racing plot, it is the emotional and psychological moments of the novel that are the strongest. Lady Transome is the best character I've read from Eliot yet. Felix Holt gets passed over due to its political and legal nuances that don't translate well to today's audience, but it also matters more in a social sense than many of her other works do.
This novel about class conflict in an English county town at the time of the Great Reform Act had some quirky and quite interesting characters. It also had a few great moments of speeches about political reform and class prejudice. However, these were quite few and far between and in essence it was a standard slow-moving 19th century novel about property and inheritance issues. Finished it, but it dragged a bit in the middle.
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George Eliot's Works (Six Volumes): Adam Bede, Scenes of Clerical Life, Middlemarch, The Mill On the Floss, Daniel Deronda, Felix Holt (The Radical), The Spanish Gypsy, Jubal and Other Poems, Romola, Theophrastus Such von George Eliot
The Complete Novels of George Eliot - All 9 Novels in One Edition: Adam Bede, The Lifted Veil, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Brother Jacob, ... the Radical, Middlemarch & Daniel Deronda von George Eliot
The Works of George Eliot: Vol. I - Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Romola; Vol. II -- Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial life, Daniel Deronda; Vol. III -- Felix Holt, The Radical, Silas Marner, The Lifted Veil, Brother Jacob,Scenes from Clerical Life von George Eliot (indirekt)
The Works of George Eliot Volume III: Felix Holt, the Radical; Silas Marner; The Lifted Veil; Brother Jacob; Scenes from Clerical Life; Impressions of Theophrastus Such; The Legend of Jubal; The Spanish Gypsy, and Other Poems von George Eilot
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Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity. Her most famous wo
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.8Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Victorian period 1837-1900
Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)
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