If you have a heart, the story of Silas Marner will warm it. If you don’t have one, maybe this story will start the process for you to grow one.
From page one you realize you are in the hands of a true artist. This is a very human, very English story of simple people living through those very basic emotions that make the world turn and give the universe meaning.
The author George Eliot writes beautifully, though quite extensively at times. (Some paragraphs were a page and a half long… but don’t let that be daunting for you.) One of the most remarkable things about this novel is the fact it was written by a woman, using a male pen name, in 19th century England when women were generally oppressed, i.e., they were not encouraged to have careers or to do anything outside the home.
It starts out sad as our wretched hero, Silas Marner, looses both his trust in humanity and his faith in God. As a man who blacks out during seizures, not remembering what happened, he is falsely accused of theft of money from his church. He is shunned by his former friends and becomes a recluse. He leaves the only home he’s ever known, starting over in a new place and turning into a gold-loving miser who has no close friends to encourage him into a better view.
When he is later robbed of his savings and an abandoned child appears on his doorstep in place of the gold, his life is changed as he takes responsibility for the child. He learns the meaning of true love, not the lust and idolatry of glittering gold, and he opens himself to the world of friends and faith in God.
Silas Marner is a fantastic novel of word painting and personal inspiration. Silas has been the muse for many other characters, including Dicken’s Scrooge. He has been portrayed in movies, including “A Simple Twist of Fate” starring Steve Martin. (As I was reading this book for the first time, I kept thinking how much this story followed the movie’s plot line. It was wonderful to see how a movie I really like was based on a beautiful classic.)
Silas Marner is an excellent book. Read it. Then read it again. There’s a gem of human understanding in every chapter, and a feeling of hope and happiness in the ending.