THE MILL ON THE FLOSS by George Eliot

Let’s get this out of the way right now.  You all know that George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, and she was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.  She also wrote, among others, Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and Adam Bede.

The Mill on the Floss was written in 1860, and is the story of the cranky and stubborn miller. Mr. Tulliver, his long-suffering wife and her three snotty sisters, and their two children, Tom and Maggie.  We watch them grow up, Tom bossy and authoritarian, and Maggie, headstrong, impetuous, and not always making the best decisions.

Mr. Tulliver gets involved in a lawsuit which he loses, the result of which is he loses everything, including the mill.  He falls ill, takes to his bed, and the family moves out of the mill to small sad premises.  The children grow up in penury, and Tom gets a job with his uncle’s firm where he does well and rises in his employment.  Maggie takes up sewing to make ends meet and then begins to teach school.

While visiting her beloved cousin between stints teaching, Maggie falls in love with her cousin’s suitor, and the suitor feeling the same, they take off on a boat trip and make plans to run away together, but eventually Maggie’s conscience gets the better of her, and they return.  The rich beau leaves for abroad, and Maggie stubbornly stays in town, to face the snubbing by the townspeople.

Eventually, a fearful storm lashes the area, and Maggie and brother Tom are lost together in the torrential waters.

Unfortunately, by 2019, this story is dated, old-fashioned, and anyone under twenty-five will be going “Whaaaa?”   But it is a story of ethics, morals, community standards, personal integrity, and the life of a small town in England in the 1820s and ’30s.

It has been made into a movie, a TV movie, a play, and a radio drama.

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