Wrongly accused of theft and exiled from a religious community many years before, the embittered weaver Silas Marner lives alone in Raveloe, living only for his precious hoard of gold. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child, Eppie, finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life.
The story of an isolated man who learns to open his heart, Silas Marner was George Eliot’s favourite of her novels, combining humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism.
Classic English literature can be a challenge. Whether it be the language, plot or descriptive quality of the prose, it is not always to everyone’s taste. George Eliot is lauded for her ‘masterly realism’ and ‘rich humour’, yet the majority of our group struggled to find any of these positives in Silas Marner.
Any hint of a captivating story was quickly squashed under the slow, and slightly agonising pace of life in Raveloe. Most did not finish the book, finding their attention wandering and unable to coax any interest in the characters, setting or storyline.
But as always, there are two sides to a book club review. A few members thoroughly enjoyed the tale and thought Eliot’s style an ideal example of Victorian literature. The characters and themes were well presented and carried the story superbly to its happy, if somewhat predictable, close.
It was mentioned that a certain frame of mind, time and space is needed when it comes to tackling classic fiction, and given slightly different circumstances, Silas may well have stood a better chance of successful praise from us. As it stands, the likely-hood of another Eliot being picked up by us as a group would have to be slim indeed!