Silas Marner – George Eliot

I remember a movie version (VHS) of this book sitting on the shelf in our downstairs cupboard when I was a kid. (I think it had been borrowed from an aunt and took a long time to return. I think it was Ben Kingsley on the front.) It took me a long time to realize that Silas Marner was a name; that is was the name of the main character! I thought it must be an old way of saying something else, something like, “silent mourner.” Just thinking about that now, I realized that I was sort of right.

Silas Marner is a really beautiful story. Shortly after I read Silas Marner for the first time I was at a friend’s house (in England.) Her grandparents were over and they asked me about what I had read lately. I mentioned Silas Marner and her grandfather immediately lit up. He said it was a beautiful book. He has studied it for his A levels and had never forgotten it. He could still tell you all about the book decades later. It stayed with him.

Silas Marner has a gentle, quiet kind of power. It is a simple story but a powerful one. A man turns his back on a world that has treated him cruelly. He cares only for money. He only learns to love again through a child who makes her way into his life; he finds a purpose for his life. Of course, there are many other conflicts involved but primarily it is about a man coming back to life. Silas Marner reminds us of the beauty of human relationships and love.

Now that I think of it, it is very fitting that I am writing this on December 1st. Silas Marner, I think, would be an excellent way to prepare for the holidays!


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