Chrissa Hardy
February 11, 2014 12:00 pm

People tell me pretty frequently that I spend too much time in the fictional world. That I need to devote more of my time in the real world and live in reality. Maybe they’re right. Or maybe they’re wrong, and have just never experienced the consuming adventure of getting lost in a powerful story. I feel bad for those people.

Rebecca Mead is not one of them. As young woman growing up in England, Mead read George Eliot’s Middlemarch and it changed her life. So much so, that she wrote a book about it.

From the book description:

New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth–Middlemarch— and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot’s masterpiece–the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure–and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot’s biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead’s life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

Order your copy of My Life in Middlemarch here.

BONUS: Rebecca Mead is running a Middlemarch video contest on her site. Just create a 2-minute video telling her “what Middlemarch means to you” share it on Twitter using hashtag #MyLifeInMiddlemarch and you could win a FREE SIGNED COPY of the book! More info here.