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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Silas Marner

Silas Marner - George Eliot
"God gave her to me because you turned your back upon her, and He looks upon her as mine: you've no right to her!
When a man turns a blessing from his door, it falls to them as take it in."
One of the main reasons I like reading Victorian novels is for the eloquence. The above quote there is spoken by the eponymous Silas Marner, a character with little in the way of education or wealth, so there is a plainness in his eloquence. In his position I would have said "F*k off mister, finders keepers!". Which is why I am not a novelist.

Silas Marner is a simple tale of a lonely miser who finds an abandoned child and decides to raise her as his own, The theme of how loving a child can "reawakening the senses" and "unfold the soul" is fairly common in fiction and popular culture. Movies like "Three Men and a Baby", "Despicable Me" and "Big Daddy" milk the theme for all it's worth, but it takes a major talent like George Eliot to achieve any kind of resonance. Silas starts off as a nice and simple guy with tremendous weaving skills and above average herbal knowledge, after being ripped off by his best friends and falsely accused he moves to another town settle into a rather Scrooge-ish existence, away from the nearest population. The poor fellow is soon ripped off again by robbery but shortly finds a greater wealth through a child that he learns to love.

The transformation of Silas from a miserable antisocial recluse to a popular kindly man rings very true to me. I have personally experienced a similar transformation when a child entered my life. Later in the book Silas is given an option of wealth in exchange for his adopted daughter and the theme of what real wealth really is becomes evident. Financial wealth becomes insignificant in comparison to parental love.

There is not a lot a can think of to write about such a straight forward and rather short novel. Suffice it to say that it is a heartfelt story that I have no hesitation in recommending. Once I again I am grateful for Librivox.org for making the audiobook version available for free. As their books are read by volunteers some are better than others, the quality of the audiobooks in their huge catalogue is definitely variable. However, this version of Silas Marner is skillfully read by “Tadhg” in a very charming Irish lilt. Reading books like this make me feel that life is good (then my boss shows up and shatters the illusion).

(Audiobook download link).