E is for Eliot

Continuing my A-Z roundup of best on my shelves.

I know, I know – all getting literary around here and no zombies or space opera in sight. But George Eliot’s Middlemarch is the standout best book of the 19th Century, in my opinion. And then there’s The Mill on the Floss, Daniel Deronda, Silas Marner…

I think part of the reason for my choice is that poor old Mary Anne Evans had to change her name in order to get published. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for her to find a publisher, let alone the encouragement to continue writing in such a male-dominated world. Her writing was far from stereotypical either – Middlemarch is all about death, obligation, debt and disgrace. It challenges the notion that women can’t be strong and independent as it entertainingly portrays 19th century life. This book, and this writer, have stayed with me for decades, so this selection is straightforward. E is for Eliot and particularly for Middlemarch.

Portrait of Eliot, c. 1849

Darker more contemporary choices would be Bret Easton Ellis for the disturbing but magnificent American Pshycho and Harlan Ellison for just about everything, though he could have been a bit nicer about it (a legendary staight talking curmudgen). F will be more modern, I promise!

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