Thursday, May 1, 2014

117. Adam Bede

Adam Bede
George Eliot
Around 615 pages

When I first started this novel, I absolutely hated it, which is why I haven't gotten to this blog in a little while.  However, despite some annoying characters and a somewhat unsatisfying ending, I really enjoyed this book.

Let me start by saying that Wikipedia says that the plot revolves around a "love rectangle".  Why would it be a rectangle?  There are five people involved, which would mean it is a love pentagon. Even if we exclude one of the less important characters, Seth, wouldn't it be a love square?  Am I neurotic for getting irrationally annoyed at this?  Yes?  Okay then, I will move on.

Hetty Sorrel is a beautiful, selfish milkmaid beloved by both Captain Arthur Donnithorne and Adam Bede.  Adam's brother Seth is in love with Dinah Morris, Hetty's cousin, who is one of the most annoying, self righteous characters that I have ever encountered.  Hetty, of course, falls for Arthur since Adam is a rather dull character who strangely switches dialects throughout the novel.  Let's just say Arthur does not intend to make an honest woman out of Hetty.  Oh, the scandal!  Do you have all the that?  The plot is even more confusing than the choice of shapes assigned to describe it.

Overall, this was quite an entertaining novel, but, as your fearless reviewer, I have to nitpick.  Like I said, Dinah Morris is one of those Melanie Wilkes-esque characters that is so "good" that her dialogue is just plain irritating.  It did, however, lend itself to a funny scene where Hetty dresses up in the plain clothes Dinah does. The only thing that would have made it better would be if Hetty started singing "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee".  But you can't have everything in this world.

Hetty and Arthur are by far the most interesting characters but, of course, Eliot wants to treat them as a cautionary tale.  I never give away endings, so I will just say that I was quite disappointed with the one that Eliot came up with.  Everything was tied together a bit too neatly, people seemed to settle, and some dick moves were made.

Overall, a good book but it would have been better if it had been titled "Hetty Sorrel" rather than "Adam Bede".  Of course, in that case I guess the story would pretty much be "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" or "Madame Bovary" so I suppose it is fine as it is.

Great first experience with George Eliot.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Praised by Charles Dickens but criticized heavily by Henry James.

Adapted by BBC in 1991.

UP NEXT: Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov.  Here come the Russians!  I am in the middle of doing a few rereads but I will try to get back here within a couple weeks!

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