16 April 2014, The Tablet

The Road to Middlemarch: my life with George Eliot

by Rebecca Mead

Literary guide

Reviewed by Susan DowellGRANTA, 304pp, £16.99 Tablet bookshop price £15.30 Tel 01420 592974 Novels cannot tell us how to live better lives: that is not what fiction is for. But life can teach us how to be better readers, as we see in Rebecca Mead’s clever and charming study of her favourite novel. Virginia Woolf famously described George Eliot’s Middlemarch (published in 1872 ) as “one the few English books written for grown-up people” and Mead disarmingly confesses to having missed much of the book’s breadth and subtlety in her younger days, which she confesses were, as they are for so many of us, a time of intense self-absorption in her “love life”. “Certain genres of fiction derive their satisfactions from the predictability
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