I’ve been reading through the complete works of George Eliot; this week I finished reading Romola. Romola caught my attention when I started reading Eliot’s books–for it is an outlier compared to her other novels. Instead of Victorian England, Eliot’s usual setting for her novels, Romola is set in 15th century Italy. Eliot was proud of the book, stating: “There is no book of mine about which I more thoroughly feel that I swear by every sentence as having been written with my best blood.” It came out to critical acclaim, though is not considered one of her better works now.
As I have read through Eliot’s books I’ve come to appreciate her style and some of her signature themes (in fact, I plan to write a future post about some of these themes). Romola had me conflicted. I loved the struggle and messiness of the humanity (one of Eliot’s specialties), yet I could not feel fully supportive of any character. I also failed to see how the book portrayed the empowerment of women in any way (one of the things this book is often praised for).
Here are some of my thoughts–fair warning, they will contain spoilers–so if you plan to read the book you might want to stop here. I’ll put a page break, so if you wish to proceed click through. . . Continue reading