— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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March 27, 2012

Team Middlemarch: Book Two, Old and Young

I'll have to just admit that I read Book Two in a kind of 'oh, this was due last week,' college-lit-course kind of way, and if it didn't delight me as much as Book One did, that's probably all my fault.  So I think I'll just look for all of the 'hopeful analogies and dubious eggs called possibilities' {only one of about a dozen lines I couldn't help noting down}. :)

Mr. Causabon and tiresome Dorothea {do we like her? are we supposed to?} are on their honeymoon, so the first part of Book Two focuses on other characters, including Mr. Lydgate, the young surgeon, and Mr. Bulstrode, the banker.  There's a lot of time spent telling us about them, including Mr. L's earlier love for a French actress and possible murderer:

Since he had had the memory of Laure, Lydgate had lost all taste for large-eyed silence; the divine cow no longer attracted hum, and Rosamond was her very opposite.

There's more of the Vincys, and a new character, Mr. Farebrother, who befriends Lydgate in spite of some politics about naming a new chaplain for the hospital. 

When we see Miss Brooke again, now Mrs. Causabon, she is sobbing, mortified by a quarrel with her husband over his work and her usefulness.  Their marriage is also the subject of gossip at home.  As in the first book, this one is funny, in spots, which is always a relief; here, for example:

      'Ah! like this poor Mrs. Renfrew -- that is what I think. Dropsy!  There is no swelling yet -- it is inward. I should say she ought to take drying medicines, shouldn't you
      'Let her try a certain person's pamphlets,' said Mrs. Cadwallader in an undertone, seeing the gentleman enter. 'He does not want drying.'
      'Who, my dear? said Lady Chettam, a charming woman, not so quick as to nullify the pleasures of explanation.
      'The bridegroom -- Causabon. He has certainly been drying up faster since the engagement:  the flames of passion, I suppose.'
      'I should think he is far from having a good constitution,' said Lady Chettam, with a still deeper undertone. 'And then his studies -- so very dry, as you say.'

{I'm reading Middlemarch with Dovegrey Reader as part of Team Middlemarch.}

1 comment:

Karen K. said...

I read this a few years ago and loved it. I did find the first 100 pages a little dry, but it was worth sticking with. There are a couple of characters I wanted to throttle, but I'll say no more. I look forward to following your posts though I don't have time to reread it myself.

Thank you for visiting!

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