My mastery of George Eliot continues apace. The only famous work left from her is Silas Marner, which will be my next project.
Mill on the Floss had a good beginning. I like when she ran off to be queen of the gypsies. I also like the rivalry between Wakem and Tulliver. But when it came to Maggie suddenly acting like a wanton whore, the book became very tiresome. There is simply no excuse for stealing away your cousin's man, a cousin who has been nothing but good to you since they were children together. It's unpardonable that, at the very first moment she felt a glimmer of a feeling for Lucy's boyfriend, she did not immediately sever all ties with him and refuse to meet him ever again. That would have been the honorable approach. She should have explained her conduct by confessing all to Lucy, who would have understood and been grateful towards her, if she had only been honest. Instead she cloaked it all in deceit and stole Lucy's lover away from right under her trusting nose.
As bad as this spicy plot development was, the ending is simply laughable. As Maggie goes about her woe-begotten life, suddenly the area is flooded, and instead of being cautious in such dangerous circumstances, she risks her life over and over again to come to the 'rescue' of everyone she cares about. And then, to make matters all the more ridiculous, our two main characters, Tom and Maggie, run into an obstacle in the river and drown to death in a completely unceremonious, pointless and sudden ending. The end. Who writes that? Clearly only an author who has grown to hate her own subject material and wishes only to leave off writing about it any further. This was about as random and stupid a plot development as you can get -- what next, they were hit by an asteroid, the end? Or maybe struck down by lightning, the end?
"Maggie thought on what to do next with her life, whether she should be expected to be penitent and estranged for all the years of her youth all the way to old age, what God could have possibly -- oh! Maggie looked down in horror -- in the middle of her vague thoughts, she had been pierced by a poisoned arrow. The blood started running down in sheets, and with horror she heard the war whoops outside of the naked savage raiding party. But how did they arrive all the way to England, she wondered? But it was too late, her mind grew foggy, the beat of the drums was the last accompaniment of her journey to eternity."
The ending was actually more ludicrous than that, more awful, more pathetic, more ignominious than anything I can approximate.
As heartily as I endorse Middlemarch for all to read, I equally heartily beg everyone to steer clear of Mill on the Floss. This book isn't worth the effort.