82 international book critics have spoken: Middlemarch by George Eliot is the best British novel of all time according to a survey by BBC Culture. It’s nearly impossible to pick one book as the best ever, but if pushed, I’d probably go for Middlemarch too.
The novel is a rich, multi-layered portrait of an English town in the 1830s, and follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a number of people, set in the social and political context of the time. We meet idealistic, intelligent and well-off Dorothea Brooke whose disastrous marriage provides barren ground for her talents; hypocritical, scandal ridden banker Nicholas Bulstrode; young, progressive doctor Tertius Lydgate and a host of other characters. Way ahead of her time, Eliot questions conventional attitudes to marriage and the role of women (she decided to write under a male pseudonym to be taken seriously). A long and dense book, but exquisitely written and one you will want to read several times. Jane Austen with brains and grit.
Why don’t you give it a try?