‘Middlemarch in May’ Read-Along

In 2015, BBC Culture contributor Jane Ciabattari surveyed 82 book critics around the world outside UK, “from Australia to Zimbabwe”, and asked them to rate the greatest English novels of all time. Guess which book came up on top of the list? Guess right. Middlemarch by George Eliot. Why outside the UK?  To find out “What does the rest of the world see as the greatest British novels… for a collective critical assessment… a global perspective”.

For her 19th C. classic to appeal to critics today, George Eliot must have done something right. I must discover the mystery. Interesting that I’d read Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch a few years ago and enjoyed it even without reading the eponymous work. But I’ve been saying to myself, I need to put an end to this cultural deprivation. You’ll never know, there just might be a new movie adaptation brewing somewhere with a postmodern streak. I have to read the original first.

My personal plan is to read the hard copy and listen to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson whichever and whenever I like during the process. Read at home, listen while driving or doing something else. That usually works best for me. Feel free to use whatever reading format you prefer.

MiddlemarchMiddlemarch Audiobook

As the lovely month of May is approaching, you’re welcome to join me and Bellezza and others here and here to read Middlemarch. We will take it leisurely. While we start in May, I’ll leave the ending date tentatively at the end of June. But if by ‘leisurely’ it means July or even further, I’m totally fine with it. (Bellezza would know how flexible I am with our previous read-along) I always find reading with a deadline more a pressure than pleasure.

You might have read it before, so here’s a chance to dust off your copy from the shelf, as we read or reread together and connect online, no matter where you are, from Australia to Zimbabwe. You may like to share via a blog post, leave a comment, or send a tweet. How’s this for a hashtag: #MiddlemarchinMay on Twitter.



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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

34 thoughts on “‘Middlemarch in May’ Read-Along”

  1. It is a perfect hashtag for a most lovely event you are hosting, Arti! I am so excited to embark on this journey with you, and Vivek, and Gretchen. A schedule feels ominous to me as well, so we will meander through Middlemarch with joy together this May. A perfect harbinger of my retirement to come. Now, if only we can get Shoreacres to join us. Linda? 😊


    1. Bellezza,

      I think the idea of reading Middlemarch came to me when I was reading Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, so, thanks to you, Bellezza! James and Eliot were (partially) contemporaries, albeit across the Atlantic. I believe Eliot had some influence on James. The subject matters they wrote about were similar.
      I’m glad this will be “a perfect harbinger” of your retirement to come. I hope this is only the beginning of many more Read-Along’s to come. Excited for you as you turn a new page, or write a new chapter in your life. 🙂


      1. That interests me so much that James inspired you to think of an Eliot, that Portrait of a Lady read-along from me brought about a Middlemarch read along from you. And you know reading together is one of my favorite parts of blogging. Thanks for the happy wishes. I’m excited, and not. Being without the kids will be awful. 😔 But, there will be new adventures. Did I mention we’re taking a trip to Japan in October?


    2. I’m pondering, pondering. I’ve been keeping up rather well with my Shakespeare reading, but a little “vacation” from that might be nice. If I excised the Bard for a time, I could fit in a novel. It unfortunate that I can’t listen while I work, but I’ve discovered audio books and anything else don’t combine well for me. I begin focusing on one or the other and either mess up my work, or lose great chunks of narrative.

      Thank for the invite. Let me think about it for a day or two.


        1. Anne,

          U don’t need to get into Twitter if you don’t use it. Since you have your own blog already you can always write a post there if you want, or go to anyone in our Read-along and share your view in a comment if they post about MinM. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Arti, I have only seen the movie, Middlemarch. Your article has moved me to first read the synopsis online, and then with great interest, to download the book from gutenberg.org. I will start the reading this evening. Thank you so much!!
    God bless! Cheers, C-Marie


    1. C-Marie,

      Great! I’m not sure about reading this long a book online. See how it goes. For me, reading from a hard copy makes it easier for me to cross reference esp. if there are many characters. But feel free to read in whatever format that suits you best! Glad to have you join us! Are you on Twitter?


      1. Well no, I am not on any social media, so I am really glad that it is not a requirement here as it is in so many places. 🌿🌸🌿


        1. You’re absolutely right, not a requirement at all. Just stop by the Pond here anytime and throw in your two pebbles when you want to share your thoughts. 🙂


          1. Just to say that I started Middlemarch and I love it already!! The description of Dorothea is great! Will definitely finish!


  3. I tried Middlemarch, twice and gave it up as a lost cause both the times! But recently I picked up Scenes of a Clerical Life and fell in love with Elliot! I am now reading Daniel Daronda and am stuck by her brilliance again! If I am able to finish Deronda by May and still sustain my newly blossomed love for Elliot, I will see you and Bellezza in on Middlemarch in May!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very tempted! Ever since reading My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead last year, I’ve wanted to reread Eliot’s great novel. It’s only been 5 years, but let’s see how I’m feeling about it next month…


  5. Hi. Good luck with this!

    I read Middlemarch in my twenties, twice, and I loved it. It’s a rich, rewarding experience, and not dull at all the way some 19th-century novels can be.

    I really should give this a go at the same time, but I have, for a few years now, been off long books, so I don’t think I’d make it anywhere near the end. But I hope you do it, and that you love it as much as I did when I read it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m in. One reason is that I can get a nice printed copy for $3.58 (!) The other reason is that, when I searched inside the book, my eye fell upon this sentence: “Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might recognize and avoid them.”

    How could I not join up after reading that? I anticipate further delights!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Linda, I am the same way about not being able to listen to an audiobook while I do anything else, unless it is nonfiction and driving. So glad that you are joining. And by the way, two more of my non-blogging online friends have said they will read with us and follow along via my blog. I hope they will use our comment boxes for their input, or responses to things we (or you all, at least) write.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My copy just arrived today, too. It’s a lovely book — paperback, but with a dust cover. I love dust covers, and have ever since we made them from grocery sacks for our textbooks in school.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Just finished!! Interesting her remarks in the beginning and end about St. Teresa of Avila. Very glad to have read this book. God bless, C-Marie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so fast! I’m planning a post right now for the half way mark to post tomorrow. Drop by again and share your view up to half way (To Book IV). So glad you’ve enjoyed reading it. :))


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