Well this might just have been the longest team read of George Eliot's Middlemarch in recent history, and my thanks to you all for your forbearance with the brougham slowing to snail's pace this last month.
My thanks to to everyone who has read along and stayed on board, and to those who joined us along the way, and thank you too and for all your engaging and insightful comments. It has all made this, my third read of what I still consider to be a very great book indeed, a complete joy.
So, Book VIII Sunset and Sunrise...
Dodo finally came good for me, how could I ever have doubted that it might happen; that I would warm to her as she finds her own way, exercises her freedom of choice, makes and acts on her own decisions and with her destiny almost in reach. All this despite the efforts of those around her to stay in control of her life on her behalf (yes you Sir James Cheetham, and Mr Brook and even Celia) and Dorothea's own penchant for 'overestimating the good in others.'
I found so many aspects of this final book almost unbearably moving which came as another surprise, and one of the reasons I didn't want to rush this reading for the sake of it...
Dorothea's meeting with Rosamund...
'Pride was broken down between these two...'
Dorothea's dark night of the soul...
'In the chill hours of the morning twilight, when all was dim around her, she awoke - not with any amazed wondering where she was or what had happened, but with the clearest consciousness that she was looking into the eyes of sorrow.'
The drama of the Will Ladislaw situation...
'To a creature of Will's susceptible temperament - without any neutral region of indifference in his nature, ready to turn everything that befell him into the collisions of passionate drama.'
Mrs Bulstrode's wavering doubts swiftly followed by her whole-hearted for-better-for-worse support of her weeping, broken husband...
'She was silent for some time; and the tears fell one after the other, her chin trembling as she wiped them away. Bulstrode, sitting opposite her, ached at the sight of that grief-worn face.'
Mary and Fred's final resolution..
'Oh dear, because I have always loved him. I should never like scolding any one else quite so well; and that is a point to be thought of in a husband.'
But above all Lydgate who remained high in the estimation stakes for me . The depths of courage required to face the music and lance (sorry, had to share it once it came into my head) the bubble of pride and then the subsequent ripple effect as the spiders caught mercilessly in George Eliot's intricate web shake and shudder the fabric of Middlemarch society just a little. Not quite enough to throw it off balance for too long because as we know well by now, Middlemarch has its tried and tested methods for dealing with such situations.
Some must be ostracised, others tolerated. sympathies apportioned out accordingly or withheld.
I particularly enjoyed George Eliot's Finale, her summing up and resume of what had happened and to whom. This was something that I couldn't recall at all from those readings of the book for study...too grateful to be nearing the final page probably.
I am delighted yet sad to be at the final page this time around too.
So pleased to have found the book had lived up to each and every one of my expectations, but also because it has given me so much more this time around and I know it is a book I will always return to.
Delighted to have read it on your company and can't wait to hear your final thoughts.
And a little sad that we have finished Team Middlemarch, and this great big chunkster of a book that has been sitting there in my reading vision for the last sixteen months or more ...thank you one and all.