I enjoyed an excellent article by Rebecca Mead about Middlemarch in yesterday's Guardian Review:
. . . A compensation of getting older is an increasing ability to see the comedy of human relations, which can be obscured by the tempests of youthful emotion . . .
. . . The ending is happy for some characters and disappointing for others. And for this reader, at least, the conclusion of the novel has always been irresistibly melancholy.
But in revisiting Middlemarch in middle age, the melancholy I experience in reading its final pages is augmented by a strange glimmer of hope, even optimism. I see in it now what I could not see as a young person: that wisdom is always being acquired, and is never fully accomplished; that love can arrive in unimagined ways, and may be found where we least expect it. 'Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending,' Eliot writes at the end of Middlemarch. Our own limited lives might also contain the possibility of renewal. Only a child believes a grownup has stopped growing.
Rebecca Mead's book, The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot, is published this week by Granta.