Silas Marner by George Eliot
REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Illustrated e-book
Rating: 3 out of 5
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 work and his precious hoard of money. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life. His fate, and that of the little girl he adopts, is entwined with Godfrey Cass, son of the village Squire, who, like Silas, is trapped by his past. Silas Marner, George Eliot’s favourite of her novels, combines humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism to create an unsentimental but affectionate portrait of rural life.
This book was recommended to me by a friend – she described it as her “favourite book ever”. Of course, this added pressure to the book – along with the fact it is a classic, which I always find slow reads as the language is so different.
The story follows Silas Marner, a weaver who was accused of theft in his hometown, by his closest friend. Leaving the town, friend and love of his life behind, he moves to the countryside, to live a solitary life. He falls in love with money, which he hordes under a floorboard. But one fitful night he is robbed. His life is once again empty, until a toddler with gold hair wanders into his cottage and falls asleep on the hearth. The little girl, who he names Eppie, is believed to be an orphan, as her mother is found frozen and dead outside the cottage. What Silas and the village don’t realise is that Eppie is in fact the daughter of Godfrey Cass, one of the Squire’s son. Godfrey had been keeping his marriage to Eppie’s mother a secret as he was so ashamed of it and he sees this as a chance to give up that life – he senses freedom, until 16 years later he is married and childless, and wants nothing more than to have Eppie back from Silas Marner.
I have to be honest and say that this has taken me a long time to read. Partly that is because I have only be reading on my lunch break, and partly because I struggled with a lot of the story. This is a classic, 19th century literature, so the language is very different to most of the books I read. I found there were long sections of the story that I didn’t follow. I remember one whole chapter in a pub based around a cow! A big part of my problem with this book was that the one of the main characters, Eppie, didn’t appear in the story until I had read over half of it! I found the story got much more interesting after the arrival of Eppie and I read it a lot quicker after that point!
I found Silas Marner an interesting character. I felt sorry for him when things went wrong for him – being wrongly accused of theft and then being robbed. I also felt sorry for him that he sunk to a place where money was the most important thing in his life. He really came alive with Eppie, and it was a lovely read. I liked Eppie, she transformed Silas and she was full of love. My favourite moment was probably at the end when, faced with Godfrey’s revelation, she passed up the chance to live in luxury to stay with Silas.
Once Eppie arrived in the story this book picked up and I really enjoyed the second half of the book. If you like classics, you will probably like all of this book! I found the language a big barrier for me and to be honest I also felt the story was slow. However, with the arrival of Eppie all that changed, so I would give this 3 out of 5 because I didn’t think it was all bad!