Book Review – The Mill on the Floss

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Book Reviews
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There was a red hardbound, old, library like book with extremely small fonts and lot of pages lying in my shelf for the past few years. Not an ideal book to pick up after an extremely tough read, The Brothers Karamzov. But it was part of my four months project by the year end, where I’ve to finish remaining four penguin modern classics in my shelf. To my surprise, The Mill on the Floss swept me off my feet.

the mill-on-the-floss

It has some history. The Mill on the Floss fell into a category which David Copperfield is in currently now. May be more books are going to fall into this category in coming years. May be because I’m not getting younger anymore and not getting more sociable anymore. David Copperfield like I’ve written a million times gave me company when I was stranded in Batal, in Spiti Valley, without knowing how I’m going to reach Manali. Similarly The Mill on the Floss, gave me company in Coorg in a mental asylum like room with creaky fan and nasty bed. Yes, both these books fall under the loner-in-fake-solitude category.

There are two books which I’d compare with it when I review this book. Obvious David Copperfield being one and the other one is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I’ll tell why the latter, later. You know by now why the former would be taken into comparison.

If David Copperfield reminded so much about me and made me sad about my imaginary past, The Mill on the Floss reminded so much about my sister and made me even sadder. I’m so like Tom Tulliver. Once I was reading the kids part of the story. I so much thought that I should give this book to my sister, ask her to read and apologize was hitting her during by first standard. Of course an incident that she’d have forgotten but definitely not me. But I know that this is not going to work as the Wodehouse book that I’ve given to her, lies with page marker marking the page where the first short story ends, for a month.

I’ll call her Maggie, Magsie. A way which Tom describes her when she’s angry. I call someone Cutsie. Severely inspired from this word. Magsie for me didn’t do anything unethical. Yes I could feel for Tom too, as to how he was pushed into hardships because of his dad’s death. How he was not able to show his affection towards Maggie and how his anger too was a kind of affection for Maggie.

Maggie on the other hand does nothing wrong. She’s the one who’s most good at heart. Loving his father, loving her brother, loving poor Philip Wakem but not able to pursue her love with him because of the one vow she makes in front of his brother in her father’s death bed. The way she’s torn between the love of his family and the love of her was so beautifully portrayed. I couldn’t read the book from her point of view. It felt as if I was a reincarnation of Tom and I was reading my story and how bad I felt how I behaved a century ago.

All through the while I was thinking how good George Elliot, being a male has written about a female character Maggie so intricately talking about all her insecurities. But only after reading the foreword I got to know that George Elliot is not actually a male but a female whose real name is Mary Ann Evans. I’d have loved George Elliot to be male and to have written so much about female insecurities without any prejudice. But few things are never bound to happen. But one good thing that happened out of it is a confirmation again to tell you that you should never read the introduction before reading the book. This was the only twist in the book for me though it didn’t involve the story.

I don’t know what’s with the climaxes during the Victorian Era novels. They make the climax setting so huge and bombastic and spoil everything they built. The disaster in the books are like building a great building with intricate detailing and demolishing before laying the final brick. So that people would get to see such awesome building again in life. Why such sadism? Why do they take the third act so literally? Why couldn’t a better structure have been enabled? Tom and Maggie didn’t see each other thereafter. She cried in the yacht she went and Tom put more hours to forget his Magsie. Story over. Why flood, why water, why disaster. Isn’t life’s disasters far sadder and less bombastic?


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