Sisters Book Club May Selection: Middlemarch

My sister and I have been a little disorganized about Sisters Book Club the past few months, but now that she’s done teaching for the summer, we’re going to try and put it back in gear. 

We’re breaking our fast with:

George Eliot’s Middlemarch

From the book cover of the Penguin Classics edition:

‘People are almost always better than their neighbours think they are’

George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories entwine, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.


I’m just about through Book I, and I’m really enjoying the relationship between sisters Dorothea and Celia (there aren’t super-strong parallels between Gabby and me, but there are some similarities). What I’ve read so far is just wonderful, and I’m looking forward to discussing this one.

Each week, you can join the book discussion here or on the Sisters Book Club Goodreads Group. I’ll pick a couple of the great discussion questions from the blog Middlemarch for Book Clubs (which also has an excellent reading guide for the novel), following this schedule:

  • May 8: Prelude, Books I and II
  • May 15: Books III and IV
  • May 22: Books V and VI
  • May 31: Books VII and VIII

The dates are when discussion opens for the books listed. You can comment anytime after I’ve published the discussion post, even into June, if you want to. This may well be too ambitious a reading schedule, but we’ll see how it goes.

And…if you’re really excited about immersing yourself in Middlemarch, you can read Rebecca Mead’s 2014 memoir, My Life in Middlemarch alongside Eliot’s classic!

So grab your copy of Middlemarch and join us!

(Although we couldn’t get our act together to make the announcement before May 1st, we’re hoping that doesn’t prevent anyone from jumping in and reading along with us.)

Preview for June:

(Isn’t this a novel idea? Planning ahead for the following month!)

In June, my sister and I are planning to read some nonfiction—Jeff Kluger’s The Sibling Effect. If you’d like to hear a bit about Kluger and his book, you can check out the TED radio hour story.

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