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Felix Holt, The Radical

George Eliot

Book Overview: 

Harold Transome is a landowner who goes against his family's political tradition (much to his mother's distress), while Felix Holt is a sincere radical. The setting of the book, the 1832 parliament election, is used to discuss the social problems of that time. A secondary plot involves Esther Leon, the stepdaughter of a minister who is the real heiress to the Transome estate, with whom both Harold Transome and Felix Holt fall in love. Esther loves poor Felix Holt, but would she choose a comfortable life with Harold Transome?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Holt's Pills and Elixir, the less you swallow of it the better," said Felix. "But truth-vendors and medicine-vendors usually recommend swallowing. When a man sees his livelihood in a pill or a proposition, he likes to have orders for the dose, and not curious enquiries."

This speech verged on rudeness, but it was delivered with a brusque openness that implied the absence of any personal intention. The minister's daughter was now for the first time startled into looking at Felix. But her survey of this unusual speaker was soon made, and she relieved her father from the need to reply by saying—

"The tea is poured out, father."

That was the signal for Mr. Lyon to advance toward the table, raise his right hand, and ask a blessing at sufficient length for Esther to[63] glance at the visitor again. There seemed to be no danger of his looking at her: he was observing her father. She had time to remark that he was a peculiar looking person, but n. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Ugh. Double Ugh. I struggled with this almost from the beginning and, frankly, wish I'd abandoned it before I got far enough that I felt I had too much invested in it to do so. Eliot kept going off on tangents. Sometimes my mind would wander and I'd read passages again, just to make sure I hadn't mi

Well that was unexpected… I loved this book!
I found this novel when looking for books from 1866 for one of the classics buffet challenges. I’m pretty sure I was unaware of it before.
Felix Holt arrives in the village of Little Treby to return to his mother’s home after giving up his study of medicine

There are, I think, two problems with this generally excellent novel. The first relates to how it is approached, and tends to lead to some of the issues readers have with it, and the second arises from the choices made by its main character at its end.

The first issue comes from the book's title. Th

I commented in relation to John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ that a sentence of 157 words was the nail in its coffin. I noticed while reading ‘Felix Holt’ that there were four consecutive sentences of 78, 13, 100, and 64 words. The difference is that in 1866 George Eliot wrote perfect prose, properly punctu

review later

I once read an essay about the objections to women's suffrage. One argument that anti-suffrage activists made was that voting was a proxy for fighting: men will wage war over political power, but they can save blood and energy by taking a vote, allowing the larger army to win without the smaller one

Very enjoyable story was further enhanced by Nadia May’s superb rendition of it for Blackstone Audio/AudioBookStand. This was my husband’s introduction to George Eliot and I’m glad it was a mostly cheerful—even humorous—novel as her works can be dark. Mrs. Holt, Felix’s mother, is a hoot and May has

4.5 stars
One of the least read of Eliot’s novels; sitting in the middle of her output. I found it had a surprising resonance for today. It was published in 1866 but was set in the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, when the vote was extended (not by much, the electorate increasing from about 500,

Felix Holt (1866) is not the best-loved of George Eliot’s novels, and in some ways it’s easy to see why. The male protagonist, the earnest idealist Felix Holt, is too idealized himself to be a truly compelling character, and the tale of his moral “conversion” of the beautiful and worldly Esther Lyon

I make no secret of the fact that I think George Eliot is a literary badass, and Felix Holt: The Radical is just the latest example of these well-deserved credentials. This is essentially a political and legal thriller set in 1832 England on the cusp of the passage of the First Reform Act. (Among ot

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