Middlemarch - George Eliot, A.S. Byatt A year ago, I started and put down this book after a hundred pages. So, going into this for a second try, I didn’t have high expectations. But even with this perspective, I still had a lot of difficulty understanding this book. It was very dense, and it also came off as pretentious, particularly in the later chapters. I start out by saying that the vast majority of the characters are unlikeable. They are not just annoying, but increasingly more static as the novel wears on. I wasn’t sure if they were like that due to the serialized style the book was published in, as Dickens’ characters sometimes were, or if they were written this way as an ironic twist. The fact that this remained a murky point throughout the entire book made it frustrating to read, since I couldn’t figure out if it was too intelligent for me to understand or if it was too muddled for anyone to make out. (I looked up two reviews for this book upon its book publication in the 1800’s, and both reviews don’t mention the plot of the book at all and instead pontificate in vague, multi-syllable vocabulary words.) Since certain chapters were painfully overwritten, where several pages were written to make one philosophical statement, I think it’s the latter. The novel seemed overwrought, with a lot of monotonous preaching and unfocused narration. I was completely uninterested in Mr. Bulstrode’s chapters, which were written in a moralistic and looping ramble that repeated itself at each chapter. Since his character has the most depth, I assumed that my interest in his story would pick up, but because Eliot talked at me and insisted on over-explaining his every virtue, I was not only unconvinced of his complexity but also nettled every time his character popped up. The resolution was a little quick, and the epilogue was almost clichéd in its positivity, but otherwise I thought that this story was bogged down by constant exposition. Overall, this book was not for me.