I’d been wanting to read something by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) for awhile. She’s from a part of England where my father’s ancestors lived. The first time I pulled a book of hers off the shelf was in a cozy old public library with easy chairs by a fireplace and big windows with great views. It was a thick novel. I thought, “Not yet.”
Then came the pandemic. I charged up my long neglected iPad to search for books I could read on it. There’s an archive site I found offering several versions of “Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life” by George Eliot to tap on for easy viewing. I liked it. I made note of some quotes, including:
“The best piety is to enjoy — when you can. You are doing the most then to save the Earth’s character as an agreeable planet.”
Also, “I have always been thinking of the different ways in which Christianity is taught, and whenever I find one way that makes it a wider blessing than any other I cling to that as the truest.”
And, “We have all got to exert ourselves a little to keep sane...”
When I finished the book of over 400 pages late one night I mentally huffed on my fingernails and polished them on my non-existent lapel with a sense of accomplishment, only to realize there must be more. This version was published in several volumes, which seemed daunting yet sustaining. I could pace myself. Eight volumes would last awhile. I was looking forward to it. When I finished the third installment of over 400 pages, however, I concluded that perhaps an antiquated blurry “8” was actually a “3.” It conclusively said, “The End.”
There’s another book of hers about a mill that I might try next.
A happy story about a re-activated mill on the River Stour in England was at the end of a news program a few weeks ago, which must’ve been in the same general area where the story took place. I’m convinced I walked past that mill when I was there on a pilgrimage of sorts years ago. I’m remembering it with a cat on a stone wall after I traipsed across an amiable bridge spanning the narrow deep river.
By way of transition, and since I like to "mill about" anyway, I drove past a local ruins from the same era. Coincidentally, while my husband stayed home to bake bread using King Arthur flour.