The Mill on the Floss, published in 1860, marks the end of the first stage of George Eliot’s work as an artist. It was like his predecessors, Scenes of Classic life(1857-58) and Adam Bede(1859), an attempt at a realistic ‘history of unfashionable families’. All three books were set in a past, not very remote, and covered by the memories of the author herself, or of her family. Although ‘THE MILL ON THE FLOSS’ is set in Lincolnshire, where she had traveled to find suitable rivers for her catastrophic flood, Dorlcote mill closely resembles Arbury Mill, where Mary Ann Evans played as a child, and the attic where Maggie Tulliver bangs her fetish’s head on the beams is the attic of Griff House, where she spends her first 22 years.Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflicts with her family.
As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectation and their desires is painfully played as she finds herself spot between her relationships with three different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family’s worst enemy and a charismatic but dangerous suitor.
With its portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill On The Floss is considered George Eliot’s most autobiographical novel also one of her most powerful and moving. My rating is 3/5.
Reviewed by Sruthi Chandran