How much would I have loved Adam Bede if I hadn’t read it between The Woman in White and Great Expectations? Probably lots, right?
Because I love titular characters who are So Very Good, and not like a simpering Pollyanna but in a stalwart, principled, broad-shouldered sort of way (the character of Adam was definitely thought up by a woman, I don’t care how much of a ‘man’ George Eliot was trying to be. I’d totally hit that), and I love things like illicit love affairs between classes and broken hearts and hidden pregnancies and MURDER (alleged)!
So, Adam Bede is this stalwart, principled, broad-shouldered woodsmith whom everyone in the small town of Somethingshire loves, except for Hetty who is petted and spoiled and very much the buxomest milkmaid around, and whom Adam loves. And then there’s Arthur, son of the Squire and lord of the manor and a dapper thing on a horse, who wins Hetty’s heart with a minimal amount of swash and buckle. Also, Adam and Arthur = pals.
So Arthur spends a while trying to convince himself that he should stop stringing Hetty along, because he is Lord of the Manor Heir Apparent and she is only Lady of the Cheeses and they could never marry, but she’s just SO BUXOM that he keeps, you know. Checking out her jugs. Of milk. Uhhhhhhhh…
ANYway, one day Adam catches the two of them smooching and gives Arthur what-for, and so Arthur writes Hetty a Dear Jane and then hies off for the army, or something. Hetty is crushed, but then figures that she’d better marry Adam instead because she realizes she’s caught the Juno. By which I mean her Eggo is preggo.
But the wedding can’t come fast enough and eventually she figures she’d better go see Arthur and make him do something, so she’s jaunting from shire to shire all ready to pop and low on both money and smarts, but when she gets to where Arthur was supposed to be, Oh yeah. He’s gone off to war.
So now she’s far from home and penniless and suicidal and then she has the baby but she (allegedly, but maybe accidentally) murders it and then is sentenced to be hanged from the neck until she is dead but at the last second Arthur comes riding in on his horse of light color with the pardon and she’s saved!! But transported to Australia, and serves out her time only to die on the return trip.
But what of Adam? In a series of totally tacked-on-to-the-end-in-order-to-Fix-Things chapters, Adam marries this lady-preacher who I forgot to mention but who is totally all over the plot and also who Adam’s brother Seth was muchos in love with which I feel like is kind of a raw deal, but if Seth’s ok with it then I’m ok with it.
And because it’s totally unfair to judge a book by its relative awesomeness, I will give Adam Bede all eight caterpillars that it deserves.
Also, this is very much not the cover my text has, but look at it and tell me than man is not checking to see if he needs to re-SpeedStick himself.