We’ve come to the end of the third week of Sisters Book Club’s Middlemarch read, and I’m pleased to report that I have finally caught up with the reading checkpoint for Week 1!
I really would rather set a better example and keep up with my own reading schedule a little better than I have been, but things keep happening to bump Middlemarch lower on my priority list. It’s still on my radar, it’s just not getting read very quickly.
For example, while my sister was visiting for four days, we both kept our copies of Middlemarch nearby while we chatted and tie-dyed t-shirts and played Chutes and Ladders with my kids. Here’s a photo my nine-year-old took of us not reading Middlemarch at the playground:
But this weekend I’ve arranged at least four kid-free hours, which I’ve reserved just for reading. I can totally catch up to today’s goal (reading up through Book VI, which is about 400 pages from where I am now) in four hours, provided I do the math wrong when figuring the pages-per-hour rate or ignore my own pokey reading pace.
In the meantime, here are some questions for you from Middlemarch for Bookclubs about Books V and VI. As usual, these are just a starting point; comment about these questions or about anything you want to from the novel. Comments will be open for several weeks yet, so go at your own pace. (Once again, I can’t take credit for these questions; they’re quoted from Middlemarch for Bookclubs.)
Chapter 43 brings different plot lines together again — a bit to Dorothea’s surprise, as she doesn’t expect to see Will Ladislaw at the Lydgates’. What’s the effect for us of running into people outside of their usual context? Do we notice different things, or judge them differently?
One of the novel’s most important experiments in engaging our sympathies with imperfect people is the story of Mr. Bulstrode and his morally questionable past. “If this be hypocrisy, it is a process which shows itself occasionally in us all,” says the narrator, but at the same time, to understand is not to excuse. How do you judge Bulstrode, either for his past or for his present attempts to deal with it?
My comments for the latter half of Book II: I’m still enjoying the novel. Casaubon’s way of speaking is comically detached. I can’t tell if he consciously avoids having (or at least expressing) any of his own opinions, or if this is just how he is. It’s difficult for me to watch Dorothea scold herself for having strong emotions; if only Casaubon would take on some of the burden of feeling things!