Read Romola whilst stuck on British trains – the trip home morphed from 7 hours long to 27 hours long due to a spot of snow on the tracks and proverbial inselaffen administrative chaos, but that was fine with me, because I had a kabillion pages of Romola to read, plenty of chocolate flapjacks to stuff into my gob, and got to spend the night at Rodelinda's, whose life true to name is taking a bit of the turn for the operatic.
Anyways, Romola was fucking awesome. Obviously George Eliot lived out all of the talent that is no longer available in that country for making the trains run properly. Sometimes I like to imagine that purgatory isn’t a separate world – that it’s nicely integrated into this one – and that Mussolini for his sins is now a daily Oxford to London commuter who has to take First Great Southwestern, and is of course utterly helpless when it comes to making the trains run on time, the poor evil fuck.
But no complaints, again, because I have travel insurance and, as I say, it gave me the time to read the mighty beast Romola, which kicks Daniel Deronda’s ass, and I loved Daniel Deronda. I guess Romola's not so popular anymore because it seems so different from the questionable-class superBrit George Eliot we’re trained to know and love – 15th century Florence, for God’s sake. But it isn't some awkward Victorian precursor to the piles and piles of Angloshit that have been composting on the shelves of bookshops written by limeys etc. dealing with crushing regret/condescending glee they weren't born wops. No.
No. Romola is like Mediciean fanfic written by a genius who Lorenzo himself would have bankrolled. Romola rocks. And the heroine of Romola, Romola her name is, is one of the all-time best female characters ever. And this from the writer who wrote one of the best all-time male characters, Adam Bede. George Eliot is fucking mental, man. She was magic. There are very few writers I'm aware of who can write either gender believably and George Eliot may be the only one who can do both. Also Thomas Hardy. He can do both. Nobody else springs to mind at the mo. In all the other books I can think of right now, either men or women and usually both just seem to show up as plot points instead of people. There's Dorothy Sayers, actually, she could do both. There are probably a lot more. My brain's just at half-mast at the mo due to the hot pizza chef always being at the gym when I go. Maybe he's been sacked. Anyways, Romola, it's great.