Framed for a theft he didn’t commit and expelled from the church which has been his life, Silas Marner, the weaver, exiles himself to the remote rural village of Raveloe to bury himself in making money with his loom. The arrival of a golden-haired orphan toddler at his door, however, drags the recluse back into the world and away from his obsession with his hoard.
This astonishingly beautiful tale of the importance of human relationships in the redemption of man is set in George Eliot's home county of Warwickshire and is filled with her own knowledge and affectionate dissection of the rural life she witnessed there.
The dissenting church that Silas rejects so totally following the failure of his god to prove his innocence can be seen to mirror the dogma that Eliot herself rejected so fiercely in her own life. Having been a devout follower of a highly evangelical Christianity gleaned from her school days, as Eliot matured she left the self-repression of her youth behind and adopted a firm agnosticism, which she maintained until her death.
Like her other novels, Silas Marner was not written until the writer was in her 40s (it was published in 1861), and the gentle rationalism that runs through the book and its belief in the remedial power of what Eliot called 'pure, natural human relations' create one of the most uplifting and positive of Eliot's works.
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A welcome return to George Eliot
George Eliot writes a gripping story which provides an acute social commentary of the time. The novel Silas Marner has a strong storyline which is beautifully narrated and vocally illustrated by Sian Philips.
It might just be compared to a novel by Dickens - but Eliot does not deliver the overly sentimental endings or "hand of God" plot drivers often characteristic of Dickens novels.
Although there was little "action" in the conventional sense beyond the first chapters the story kept me gripped throughout.