Monday, 31 December 2012

Silas Marner

Finished December 31
Silas Marner: the weaver of Raveloe by George Eliot

This is a classic that I missed, and I had it on my list for the TBR challenge this year. Carried it around in my purse for the last little while, reading in snatches. I think I have an older edition of this packed away, but got this one free at some point and it was handy.
So the book was first published in 1861, but is set in a time earlier in the 1800s. Silas has had a rude awakening about human nature and friendship and moved to Raveloe as a result. He leads a solitary life, concentrating on amassing money for money`s sake, spending little on himself and not interacting with his neighbours. When his fortune is stolen, he is devastated, and appeals to the community in a panic for help. It is this that first gets his neighbours taking an interest in him. When another set of circumstances lead to a small child being orphaned on Silas` doorstep, he finds himself compelled to take her in and make her a loving home. This move brings him further into the community and we see how it is this action that drives the community opinion of him.
The leading family in Raveloe is the Cass family, and while the oldest son Godfrey is a good-natured man, generally well-meaning, the second son Dunstan is one who would sell him own mother, if she wasn`t already dead. Dunstan has drawn Godfrey into an ill-conceived relationship and is now using that as a hold over him. But he is always on the lookout for opportunities for money, and this leads him to criminal actions and bad outcomes.
The action takes place in two time periods, one with the plot threads described above and another sixteen years later, when we see the results of these actions. There is definitely a morality tale aspect to the plot, but the characters are what really bring the book to life. I really enjoyed it.

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