We literally could not have given you a more manageable chunk to start with (up to page 73, or the end of Chapter Two), but since the book has only been out for a few weeks, it is very understandable if you have to slide more gradually into our discussion.
What I’d love to talk about today (though we can definitely talk about whatever you want) is the gawky adolescence of ourselves as readers; the time in our lives (I am saying “our,” but you may never have done this, you lucky thing) when we were busily using books to construct ourselves as people. That may have been translated into either being too smart and UNBEARABLE and performative (I, Rebecca Mead, and George Eliot fall solidly into this category) or being very, very quiet as you tried to amasss information about the world in which you were about to live.
If any of you saw An Education, which was that great Carey Mulligan movie from 2009, I found myself thinking of it frequently during these early chapters of My Life in Middlemarch, in the showiness of Rebecca/Mary Ann Evans, the ambition, and the play-acting, essentially, of our lives while waiting for “our lives to start.”
My conversation with Rebecca Mead about said august book was taped (which I did not realize, hence being mildly indiscreet in the opening MINUTE), and it’s not exactly a den of spoilers, so you can watch it without fear:
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.