The title is Adam Bede, but it should be Hetty Sorrel, the shallow but fascinating character who draws both the other characters and the reader to her. It would be easy to dismiss George Eliot's harsh portrayal of this 17-year-old working class girl as the jealousy of a plain woman towards a pretty one, though there is something to that. But in the 19th century, this story would have been difficult or impossible to get published if Hetty had not been held somewhat to blame for her own fate. Eliot went so far as to set her story in an earlier time; perish the thought that her contemporaries would seduce peasant girls or that illegitimacy was a fact of rural life. However, there are real life Hettys, both then and now, and their stories are seldom simple black and white. The difference is that the fate of a modern Hetty is usually much less brutal, and we should be grateful for it. For those who may find this book long, you can skip early chapters about Adam's workshop, and his brother, and skim Dinah's preaching -- they're mostly irrelevant to the rest of the story.
The style of Eliot and other Victorian writers, including Dickens, was such that they sometimes appear to be going off in tangents. This was very much in the style of the period, when the novel was viewed as having a didactic purpose.
This is a fascinating story though somewhat slow. I found it distracting that Eliot often goes off on tangents.
You can tell that Eliot was not a fiction writer to begin with.
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