Things To Look Forward To 

David Gaunt has owned Gleebooks with partner Roger Mackell since 1976.

The Road to Middlemarch

Gleebooks Bookshop - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I read all of George Eliotís works 40 years ago, revisited most in the intervening years, and Iíve made a habit of returning to Middlemarch every decade. So you can imagine my delight in coming upon Rebecca Meadís The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot (Text Publishing). Reviewers around the world (presumably self-selected Eliot lovers) have been gushing with praise. Of course, you donít have to read Middlemarch to be impressed, but youíd best put aside a week to read the most intensely interesting 19th century novel in the English language, to get what Mead is on about. Iíd never go as far as she has, to claim one book as a moral compass for guidance through life, but as you read her quiet and devoted appreciation of the novel in the context of her own lived experience, you canít but be engaged. Middlemarch is, famously, an intensely moral book, challenging readersí sympathies and judgements with a richly drawn, deeply engaged set of characters living in a town in mid-Victorian England. But, as Mead says, itís not some kind of moral codebook. And in this part memoir  part critique, which started life as a New Yorker article, where British-born Mead is a staff writer, youíll get enough biographical insight into the brave and trail-blazing life of Marian Evans, to revisit the works yourself.

I have just finished Beams Falling the second novel of the exceptionally talented crime writer P. M. Newton. The Old School was a remarkably mature and wise debut novel. This one is even grittier, and more complex in its exploration of the shadow world of cops and crims, drugs and social upheaval. Itís a brilliant achievement. Maybe the authorís 10 years plus as a detective adds an authenticity to the telling, but sheís a very talented writer anyway. And just as in her first book Sydney (memorably the sights and smells of Cabramatta, North Sydney pool, and the harbour) is a smouldering, shimmering presence throughout.

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