Synopses & Reviews
The debut novel of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) consists of three loosely connected tales, all focusing on country parsons in nineteenth-century England and their struggles to breathe life into moribund creeds while dealing with their own personal problems. "The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton" vividly recreates the impoverished life of an uninspiring preacher who is unable to move the simple townsfolk of his parish with religion, yet in the end evokes their compassion when tragedy strikes his family. In "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story" a web of unrequited love entangles a young parson in a difficult moral dilemma that contrasts all-too-human passion with idealistic love. The concluding story, "Janet's Repentance," describes the sectarian strife between the established Anglican church and the new Methodism of the time. In the midst of this conflict, a Methodist minister comes to the aid of the abused, alcoholic wife of his chief Anglican enemy.
Eliot displays her gifts for creating interesting moral conflicts, vivid characters, and realistic dialogue in these engrossing and enduring tales.