Why this book?
This is Eliot’s last novel about an ostensible British aristocrat’s journey to uncovering his real identity. Often referred to as Eliot’s “Jewish novel,” it reflects her unerring ability to empathize with the Other. It is very long but also un-put-downable, with two interwoven plots that complement each other masterfully. It’s at once a conventional 19th-century novel and an entirely original and surprising take on the genre. As a Jew with a love of nineteenth-century British novels, this one spoke to me most powerfully.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
As Daniel Deronda opens, Gwendolen Harleth is poised at the roulette-table, prepared to throw away her family fortune. She is observed by Daniel Deronda, a young man groomed in the finest tradition of the English upper-classes. And while Gwendolen loses everything and becomes trapped in an oppressive marriage, Deronda's fortunes take a different turn. After a dramatic encounter with the young Jewish woman Mirah, he becomes involved in a search for her lost family and finds himself drawn into ever-deeper sympathies with Jewish aspirations and identity. 'I meant everything in the book to be related to everything else', wrote George…