General, and Thoughts on Middlemarch Books VII & VIII.

The Festive Budgie Myshkin.
The wind here last night was incredible, one of the rare occasions when I've been frightened of it. And the hens were terrified: as it was getting dark I happened to look up as a great gust blew into the aviary and lifted up a bag of sawdust, and all three hens sprinted into the utility room (rather, the 'hen room'). It took about an hour to settle them, and Charlotte stood on my knee, leant against me, and cried more or less non stop for twenty minutes. This, the weather, any weather really, is still new to them. They left the battery farm during the height of summer, and our summer lasted for quite some time. I suppose it wasn't until around October that they began to feel the cold, and this past week with all the wind, rain, and hail must have been rather dramatic for them. But, they're good little things and they're doing their best. Poor little ones.

Meanwhile, as you can see, Myshkin has been having adventures. When I went to say good night to the budgies on Boxing Day she flew out the cage and sat on the Christmas tree (I spent many hours last Christmas trying to get one of them to pose by the Christmas tree, and the nearest I got was Trotwood walking away from it, but, a year later, I got my pose). They don't seem to mind the wind, and nor does George, so the inside bird brigade are all well! 

Other than that, all quiet. I'm very much into my re-read of Les Misérables, it's the only book I'm reading at the moment and everything's sort of revolving around it! It's even better the second time around, and I wonder if I've picked an even better time for it, or I prefer the translation, this one by Norman Denny, the last one by Julie Rose. Either way, I suddenly have very high hopes for Anna Karenina

And, as I said in my Boxing Day post, I finished Middlemarch on Christmas Day! I'm planning on writing a proper post about it on Sunday, but for now here are my general thoughts on Books VII and VIII. As with the previous posts, this is for those who are reading along, or who have read it. My 'proper' post on Sunday won't have any spoilers, though.

The wrap-up of Middlemarch was truly fascinating, and very rewarding. I suffered a little from my thankfully brief episodes of apparently glazing over (I don't think I did glaze over an awful lot, but I wish I had have paid a great more attention to Bulstrode and Raffles). I loved the last two books, I loved how Dorothea supported Lydgate, and the contrast with her and Rosamond was brilliant, I loved how Dorothea made Rosamond look even worse, and Dorothea was made to look even better, yet they did unite. She had my full sympathy probably from around Book II or III, and so did Lydgate, although the both of them made desperately bad choices in their marriages. And Dorothea marries Will! I loved that, how Will brought her back as it were. Casaubon stifled her, she almost turned into the ghost he was, but her very decision to marry Will showed that she was back to the rebellious woman she once was. And I also admired Mrs. Bulstrode's decision to stay with Mr. Bulstrode despite the scandal he'd brought to the family. I don't know if it was the right decision, as I say I wish I'd paid a little bit more attention to these characters, but in a way she showed strength. But, perhaps it wasn't strength at all, perhaps it was weakness, fear at being left alone without what she had always known. I wonder if that would have been a better reading of it.

I also thought the scenes between Rosamond and Lydgate were particularly well done - when they eventually made peace it was by Rosamond criticising his hair, and Lydgate's acceptance, even gratitude of it, that she was finally paying attention instead of sulking was rather poignant. 

As for Mary Garth and Fred Vincy - I'm sorry to say I really cannot bring myself to care at all. I have nothing to say. I suppose I should think about it a little more carefully, as well I might before my final post. 

Finally, back to Dorothea - the scene where Dorothea walks in on him and Rosamond was very painful. That she chose to go back to see Rosamond showed great strength. Of course, Dorothea never realises her independence: I wonder how happy her marriage would prove to be to Will. It can't be worse than her marriage to Casaubon, but that's a very unsatisfactory way of assessing the situation. And Lydgate's marriage... He and Rosamond got over their difficulties to an extent, but Rosamond was hardly a redemptive character so I wonder what storms were yet to be encountered before his early death. I wish he hadn't have died so young, or at least I wish he could have found his own Dorothea, because they could have also been a good match. That particular end was not a happy one.

Anyway, those are my thoughts / notes / reactions / however you wish to categorise them. Tomorrow I'll write my proper post, and I think I'll want to dwell a little on Virginia Woolf's reading of Middlemarch (she wrote a chapter about George Eliot in The Common Reader). I'm looking forward to writing it. I very much enjoyed Middlemarch, and I loved elements of it. One of my main feelings of happiness is that I am more familiar with this novel. As I said, I've read it before but it was a disastrous read. This time I feel at ease with it. I'm happy to have read it, and as I've said more than once now, I'm grateful to Beth for organising this readalong.  


  1. I love Festive Myshkin! :))) It must have been terrifying time for the chicken - I hope that they either get more used to the wintery weathers or that the weather will get better.

    1. I hope more for the latter! They've been milling around the chicken room all day, though they braved a dust bath earlier. I think they'll get the hang of it all. Poor things aren't used to weather in general - most of last summer they lay under the coop in front of a fan!

  2. Myshkin looks adorable (and I love his name)!

    Now you have got me wanting to read Middlemarch. I've only seen the TV series, which was interesting, but it would be even better to get a more in-depth perspective of the characters.

    1. I would love to see the TV series - saw some stills when I was looking up stuff for my review.

      Myshkin's a girl, by the way - she had the blue beak of a boy for nearly a year, but over night it turned pink. Then she laid an egg which confirmed it all. But yes, Myshkin *is* a boy's name. Was going to start calling her Myshka or Myshkina or something, but her nickname was always "Kin", so it never really stuck. :)

    2. My bad - I should have read the post more carefully! :)

    3. I should have looked at her beak more carefully! Been referring to her as "he" on my blog for almost a year! :)

  3. Oh, youre making me want to re-read Les Misérables as well! I've missed my books so much :,)
    Glad to know you've been having a nice Christmas by the way!

    1. Thank you, hope you did too. So glad you're back :)


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