Samantha Ellis

Friend of Dorothea

The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot

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When Rebecca Mead first read Middlemarch, aged 17, she was dreaming of leaving her English seaside town for university and ‘identified completely’ with Dorothea, George Eliot’s 19-year-old heroine who ‘yearns for a more significant existence’. Now in her forties, living in New York and a staff writer for the New Yorker, Mead realises she is the same age as Casaubon, the desiccated pedant Dorothea marries. Like him she is sometimes ‘consumed by a sense of doors closing behind me, alternative lives unlived’ and to help herself out of this crisis, she resolves to examine her feelings about Middlemarch and its author.

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