The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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January 16, 2013

Team Middlemarch, Book Seven: Two Temptations

There are definitely more than two temptations in Book Seven {so I wonder which two George Eliot had in mind?}; a lot happens, but nothing is settled, and things seem to be building toward the finish in Book Eight.  Lydgate tries to convince Rosamund of the seriousness of their predicament, but he also can't bear to see her hurt or upset by the inevitable change in their status, and he reluctantly decides to try to borrow the thousand pounds he needs, first from his aristocratic cousin and then from Mr. Bulstrode. But before that, he's driven to try opium, and gambling {that sounds so Victorian and dramatic, but it's in an ineffectual, Lydgate-ish way}; Fred saves him, at least from that, and Mr. Farebrother {I really like him} saves Fred.

Then Mr. Raffles returns, suddenly ill and tormented, and after Caleb Garth takes him to Stone Court in his gig, he returns to the bank to tell Mr. Bulstrode that there is a sick man at his house and that he (Garth) can't in good conscience work for Bulstrode any longer.  Protesting his righteousness, Bulstrode calls in Lydgate, then sees an opportunity, and things just spiral downward from there.

There's more, then, in Book Seven, about Rosamund and Lydgate, but it's less hopeful, and there's a lot about the power of gossip and innuendo, and the willingness to believe the worst of people you don't like, as Bulstrode's past, and what looks like Lydgate's collusion, come to light. Dorothea has been traveling, so for much of this book she's only talked about;  when she sweeps back in, at the end, you can almost feel that the conclusion is in sight. {Team Middlemarch will be finishing Middlemarch in the middle of March.}

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