Friday, January 13, 2012

Discovering a classic

The great thing about a book club is that it leads you to books you might not otherwise read. I was pleased to learn that Silas Marner by George Eliot was the February book for the Newport Library's Reading Circle: it's a classic that until now I've somehow missed.

Interestingly, when I mentioned to my parents that I was reading the 1861 classic, they both seemed dismayed. "Why?" asked my dad.

This surprised me. My parents are well-read people; and Silas Marner is a good book. It turns out that both my mother and father were forced to read it in high school. I can see that it wouldn't be what I would choose to read at 16.

At the beginning of the novel, Silas Marner is an unhappy man. He has no family or friends, and has lost his faith in God. Intensely alone, he spends all his time working and counting his earnings - gold sovereigns, which he can never spend, for they are his only companions.

Marner is rescued from this unnatural and lonely state by two events. One, a scoundrel steals his precious money. And two, a tiny orphaned child wanders into his home. These events combine to bring about a complete reformation of Marner's miserable life, and the details of how that happens are a pleasure to read.
Silas Marner is a classic that a lot of people have never read - or, like my parents, read and disliked as teens. It's a short, rich novel, worth another look.

If you'd like to join the Reading Circle's discussion of Silas Marner, please feel free to come to our meeting. It's at noon on the second Tuesday of every month; the next is February 14. For a schedule of upcoming Reading Circle picks, click here.

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