300 pages in, a plot emerges! – “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot
For the first three hundred or so pages, I was bored.
Then, I was enraptured by a suddenly-appearing love story.
Then, I was suddenly surprised with a sudden climax and tragic ending.
Then, the book was done.
Really, George Eliot? Really?
The novel details the childhood through adulthood of siblings Tom and Maggie Tulliver. Rational Tom and emotional, impulsive Maggie are devoted to each other despite being constantly at odds and quarreling. He’s far too even-keeled, and she never thinks before she acts. As a reader, Tom grows a little trying in his perfection. Maggie, on the other hand, shines. Everyone who has ever considered themselves a little bit wrong will find a friend in her.
Over the course of their lives, Tom goes to get an education, the family is at risk of losing the farm, the siblings spar, Maggie is told what a bother she is, and there’s a few hundred pages too many of it all. Maybe I’m too modern of a reader to appreciate the seemingly-endless description of rural English life, but I grew quickly bored with the lack of events happening and felt my mind wander.
Just when I thought all was lost, it changed. Maggie finds herself in love with one of Tom’s classmates, Philip Wakem. They vow their love to each other. But then Maggie meets one of her cousin’s suitors and they wind up deciding to elope. They don’t, but it’s all scandalous nonetheless and causes Tom – always in the right and always a snore – to shun her. Hence, Maggie is alone. It’s a series of events handled too briefly, but it’s still wildly entertaining.
And then there’s a flood, which appears out of nowhere and ends the novel in about twenty pages.
Maggie gets a boat and goes to rescue Tom. On their way to rescue their cousin, their boat tips and they drown. Again, handled way too quickly. The entire flood and death part happens in probably less than thirty pages. Literally, Maggie looks out a window and there’s a flood.
I found the first part of the book to be tedious, even in it’s precociousness, but the last parts of the book held be enraptured.
Consider that your warning if you embark on a readers journey to this mill, people.