Silas Marner (George Eliot)

This was a pleasant little book. It’s not one that makes me excited to write a lengthy review or wish I could delve into writing an academic essay. But it was a lovely use of my time, and I think I want to read it again at some point. It reminds me of Pride & Prejudice in that way – I wasn’t too excited for that one either when I first read it, but additional readings have led me to appreciate it more.

Title – Silas Marner

Author – George Eliot

Page count – 185

Rating – Borrow

Silas Marner is a spinner and weaver. As someone who came from another town and – except for his yarn and linen deliveries – keeps mostly to himself, he is regarded by the country folk as a “miserly recluse.” Although the narrative actually doesn’t spend the majority of the time with Silas, the arc of the story occurs when he adopts an abandoned child who appears one day in his cottage.

The author doesn’t give us a specific time or place in which this story is set. We know it’s the countryside, in the fictional (?) town of Raveloe, and it appears to be roughly around the time of the Industrial Revolution. This lack of specificity allows the story to take on a fairytale-like quality, which plays off the superstitions of our rural inhabitants. I like the description on the back cover which goes on to call this “a tale rich in the understanding of human nature…and a vivid revelation of the undercurrents of sheltered rural life – suspicion of the outsider, hatred of the unfamiliar.”

While this story had a particularly somber tone, there were a couple moments of comic relief:

“Mrs. Crackenthorp – a small, blinking woman, who fidgeted incessantly…turning her head about and making subdued noises, very much like a guinea pig, that twitches its nose and soliloquises in all company indiscriminately – now blinked and fidgeted towards the Squire, and said, “Oh, no – no offence.” (p. 101)

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