It is the story of a brother and sister, Tom and Maggie Tulliver, who grow up at Dorlcote Mill near to the (fictional) village of St Ogg's in rural England and spans about 12 years from around 1830. This is an era when England was on the brink of enormous reforms and change but country life still remained the same as it had for centuries. Families seldom moved far from their ancestral roots and each region had it's own dialect, customs and beliefs. This is the environment in which Tom and Maggie grow up surrounded by extended Tulliver and Dodson family and expected to conform to the expectations of their elders. Mrs Tulliver had been Miss Dodson and she has three married sisters whose one-up-manship and bickering among themselves provides a welcome touch of humour.
"The religion of the Dodsons consisted in revering whatever was customary and respectable; it was necessary to be baptised else one could not be buried in the churchyard, and to take the sacrament before death, as a security against more dimly understood perils; but it was of equal necessity to have the proper pall-bearers and well-cured hams at one's funeral; and to leave an unimpeachable will."
|Tom and Maggie Tulliver|
She finds solace in her father who dearly loves his 'little wench' and idolizes her brother, Tom, although no matter how hard she tries she never seems to please him.
Tom is the pride of the family, a practical, 'bovine' boy and according to his aunts 'a true Dodson.' As a boy he alternates offhand affection to Maggie with unkindness and disapproval, as a young man he becomes increasingly cold and judgmental.
As Maggie reaches adulthood the conflict between her duty and need to be loved is played out in her relationships with the men in her life until her inability to conform to society's expectations completely alienates her from her brother.
I loved everything about this book. Beautiful evocative prose describing the countryside I am happy to read over and over again and I enjoyed following the symbolism of the Floss throughout the story. That the pace is quiet and slow much of the time was not a worry - I slow down with it and appreciate what I'm reading more.
It also leaves the reader unprepared for the impact the sudden and devastating ending will make. An ending that many don't seem to care for but I liked it. Life does the same - the catastrophic events that hit us often come suddenly and leave us, shocked and stunned,
trying to comprehend what has happened. Which is exactly how I felt in the final pages.
Brilliant! ....and I'm very happy I made the decision to buy not borrow.
Related post - Mill on the Floss Visual Tour
The Classics Club