Friday, January 7, 2011

Felix Holt, the Radical

The first book I have finished in 2011 is a classic written by the estimable George Eliot, whose novel Middlemarch I fell completely in love with. I found Felix Holt to be an inferior work, but still entertaining and quite gripping toward the end of the book. The Transome estate is in neglect when we first enter the scene, and the stately lady of the house is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second-born son who has recently become the inheritor of everything. Lady Transome has many high hopes for this, her favourite child, and is in a state of eager anticipation when he arrives. Thus the story starts briefly with hope, but delves quickly into a twisted labyrinth of secrets and politics, immorality and goodness, love and hatred. We meet Esther and her father Mr. Lyon, a Radical minister, Mr. Jermyn who is a lawyer and has managed Transome in lieu of a mentally incapacitated Lord and his gambling eldest son, and the man the book is named after, Felix Holt who is of high moral character and, even more impressive, practices what he preaches.

Felix Holt was slow to get into and slow to introduce characters, but once all that was out of the way it developed into a lovely little morality tale complete with romance and politics. I give it seven bookmarks out of ten.

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