[Review] The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Publisher and Publication Date: The New American Library/Signet Classic. 1965. First published in 1860.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. British literature.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 560.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic 19th century British literature. Readers of family stories.
Rating: Good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

I am reading George Eliot books for the 2023 George Eliot Chapter a Day Reading Challenge.

The Mill on the Floss is the second book I’ve read by George Eliot. I am currently reading Silas Marner.


Early part of 1800s. England.

The Tulliver family has a working mill in the rural countryside of England. Tom and Maggie are the children. Tom is the older brother. A serious financial hardship changes the dynamics of the family. The children return home from school to help the parents.

The Mill on the Floss shares the story of a great loss in the Tulliver family that effects their financial outlook and stress. But also, those dreams that might have been are halted. It also shows the society and culture of the era towards women in higher education and independence, and the ability to make choices of friendship and marriage. And it shows the parents bent towards showering attention and affection to one child over the other.

My Thoughts:

This is the second time for me to read The Mill on the Floss.

I want to state quickly this is not a feel-good story. It is not a story that when the last page is read, the reader feels a since of happiness about the storyline or characters. It is sad. The entire story is sad. However, The Mill on the Floss is well-written and memorable.

What I have a big problem with is Tom Tulliver. Tom is a disagreeable person. He is selfish. Self-centered. Hateful. Conceited. Abusive. Manipulative. Withholds love. Controlling. He is one of the few book characters (of all the stories I’ve read) I dislike. It is possible that his parents have favored him so much this has negatively impacted his character. It is also possible the stress of expectations placed on him by his parents has negatively impacted and soured his character. This creates an internal conflict for Tom but internal and external conflicts for his sister.

I dislike Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver. I dislike Mr. Tulliver’s unforgiveness and bitterness that seeps into the family and is a great influence on Tom. Unforgiveness and bitterness are strong themes in the story. The impact of these themes carries through to the end.

I believe George Eliot did not write The Mill on the Floss with the intention of a feel-good story. There is a purpose for the story. I realize this, but I still dislike Tom and his parents.

When the story begins, Maggie is a strong-willed child who poses a problem for her dear mother who wants a meek and lady-like daughter. Maggie is a disappointment to her mother. This creates internal conflicts between the two.

Maggie’s father is the only one who seems to be tender towards her; yet his nickname for her I dislike. That name is a reflection of other things going on in the story. {I love you, but I will keep you in the place I create for you.}

The Mill on the Floss is the story of an imperfect family who suffers under hardship which changes the course of their lives. George Eliot uses internal and external conflicts, characters, and a strong plot to capture the story.

The story has strong themes of unforgiveness, bitterness, death and dying, sacrifice, heroism, suffering, judgement, injustice, justice, dreams, grief, hope, greed, trust, innocence, and coming of age.


[Review] Adam Bede by George Eliot

Publisher and Publication Date: Oxford University Press. My edition is 2008. Originally published in 1859.
Genre: Fiction. Classic British literature. Victorian.
Pages: 592.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic literature. Readers of George Eliot stories. Readers of classic British literature.
Rating: Excellent.


Link for more information from Oxford University Press. This is a direct link to the book: Adam Bede.

Link for the book @ Amazon. I don’t understand why the paperback is $51.64! The Kindle edition is .99 cents.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble. $13.95.

The I copy read and reviewed is from the final edition, 1861.

George Eliot (1819-1880) is the pen name. Mary Ann Evans is the author’s name. Goodreads‘ author page.

Further links:


An article from BBC. The genius who scandalized society.


The year is 1799. England.

Adam and Seth Bede are brothers who live in a farming community near the village of Hayslope. Early in the story their father dies. Adam and Seth continue farming the land. Their mother is Lisbeth Bede.

Adam is in love with a local girl, Hetty Sorrel.

Hetty is a lovely girl. She is focused on the luxuries of the world. Things she like to have but does not. She has romantic notions in her head that are not realistic.

A young woman, Dinah Morris, is a traveling Methodist preacher.

The plot is Hetty and her choices and consequences of those choices which impact Adam, Dinah, and her family.

My Thoughts:

Adam Bede is the first book to read in Nick’s 2023 George Eliot Chapter-a-Day Read-a-Along. In this reading challenge, I read a chapter a day in a George Eliot book. By the end of the year, most of her major works will be read. The next book is Mill on the Floss. I have already began reading this book. This is the second time to read this book. I have two additional books I’d like to read in 2023. One is a biography, George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton. The second is Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot.

This is the first time to read Adam Bede. I read (several years ago) Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner.

Adam Bede is a soft, tender, and gentle story. Even though there are sad and harsh themes. The story has many moments of great tenderness.

Dinah Morris is my favorite character. However, I dislike her moments of presumption. A couple of strong character traits is she is insightful and wise. She is a deep thinker. This often leads her to ponder people and what may happen to them. It is possible Eliot used Morris as a way to give insight about Hetty’s character or a way to prepare the reader for what may happen. But I can relate to Dinah, and this is why I can state what a drawback it is to have her character traits. I am not always correct in my assumptions/presumptions. I pray about my attitude in casting doubt on a person when I don’t really know them and what I think may happen does not. Only God knows a person’s heart and motives and thoughts.

What I love about Dinah is her gentleness. Her sweet spirit. She is tender. Such beautiful writing surrounds Dinah. It’s as if the radiance of her spirit shines in her countenance. The people certainly respond well to her. They trust her. She is a remarkable book character. I looked forward to all the scenes and dialogues surrounding Dinah.

Adam is both a handsome man and a solid character. I believe he has the best of intentions. I believe he wants to do the right thing-the noble thing.

Seth is a secondary character that loses steam. I don’t see much of him in the story except in the beginning.

Hetty is a headstrong girl. She is beautiful, young, and impressionable. She is a young girl who has not had a mother to raise and prepare her for life’s challenges and disappointments.

Sometimes, Eliot interjects her own thoughts about the story and its characters. Most of the time the story moves chronologically allowing the character’s dialogue and scenes to develop.

I notice Eliot uses strong descriptions to set a scene, and often using the same words. For example, the sun, light, and reflection.

Eliot mentions facial expressions, thoughts, body language, and the countenance of people.

Adam Bede is an enjoyable story. It does have sad moments. It has a solid satisfying conclusion.

Adam Bede is a story of internal conflicts.

Some themes in Adam Bede: male and female romantic relationships, death, honor, conformity, wisdom, pride, gratitude, charity, hope, dreams, temptation, self-control, grief, judgment, innocence, and ambition.

Favorites quotes from the book:

“Dinah had been speaking at least an hour, and the reddening light of the parting day seemed to give a solemn emphasis to her closing words. The stranger, who had been interested in the course of her closing sermon, as if it had been the development of a drama-for there is this sort of fascination in all sincere unpremeditated eloquence, which opens to one the inward drama of the speaker’s emotions-now turned his horse aside and pursued his way, while Dinah said, ‘Let us sing a little, dear friends;’ and as he was still winding down the slope, the voices of the Methodists reached him, rising and falling in that strange blending of exultation and sadness which belongs to the cadence of a hymn.” Page 30.

“Everything was looking at its brightest at this moment, for the sun shone right on the pewter dishes, and from their reflecting surfaces pleasant jets of light were thrown on mellow oak and bright brass;-and on a still pleasanter object than these; for some of the rays fell on Dinah’s finely-molded cheek, and lit up her pale red hair to auburn, as she bent over the heavy household linen which she was mending for her aunt. No scene could have been more peaceful, if Mrs. Poyser, who was ironing a few things that still remained from the Monday’s wash, had not been making a frequent clunking with her iron, and moving to and fro whenever she wanted it to cool; carrying the keen gland of her blue-grey eyes from the kitchen to the dairy, where Hetty was making up the butter, and from the dairy to the back-kitchen, where Nancy was taking the pies out of the oven.” Page 67.

“When death, the great Reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.” Page 49.