Daniel Deronda is George Eliot‘s (born Mary Ann Evans) final novel. Published in 1876, it blends two different stories with one central character.
Gwendolen Haroleth is down on her luck. Gambling the last of her money away at casino in Germany, she meets Daniel Deronda, a young man who saves Gwendolen by returning to her a necklace she had gambled away the night before. There the story breaks off into two different stories: Daniel’s and Gwendolen’s.
Gwendolen’s mother has recently become a widow for the second time. She takes her children and moves in with her brother. Knowing that she has to marry and marry well, Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, an older man with a mistress, several illegitimate children and a less than warm personality. He proposes marriage to Gwendolen and she accepts him, despite knowing that her marriage will disinherit his children and break previously made promises to his mistress.
Daniel has been raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger, a man he believes to be his father. But his heritage and his true parents are a mystery. As he is boating on the Thames, he prevents Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewish singer from killing herself. Mirah is looking for her family. Daniel through meeting Mirah, begins to connect to London’s Jewish community and answer some questions about his unknown past.
In 2002, Daniel Deronda was made into a miniseries with Romola Garai as Gwendolen, Hugh Bonneville as Grandcourt, Hugh Dancy as Daniel and Jodhi May as Mirah.
I enjoy the book and the movie. In a literary era when the only Jewish character is Fagin from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Mirah and her brother Mordechai are drawn as fully formed human beings, with good and bad qualities. The movie has an excellent cast with as much taken from the book as any adaptation from novel to the screen can be taken.
I recommend both.
Imagine putting in a room a group of Janeites and asking them which is their favorite Jane Austen book. The answers may surprise you.
The 2007 film, Jane Austen Book Club, based upon the book by Karen Joy Fowler bring together five women and one man, all to discuss the novels by Jane Austen. They soon find how much their lives begin to resemble their favorite Jane Austen characters.
Sylvia’s (Amy Brenneman) marriage to Daniel (Jimmy Smits) has just ended. Her friends, Jocelyn (Maria Bello) and Bernadette (Kathy Baker) organize the book club to draw Sylvia’s attention away from her ex-husband. They recruit Sylvia’s daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace) who falls in love with another woman while skydiving, Prudie (Emily Blunt), a teacher who is considering having an affair with a student, Trey (Kevin Zegers) because she feels like she is drifting apart from her husband (Marc Blucas) and Grigg (Hugh Dancy), who is joins because he is attracted to Jocelyn.
I saw the movie first and then read the book. Normally the book is better than the movie, but the book was horrible and the movie is enjoyable. I have a general rule that if I cannot get past the first couple of chapters in a book, it’s not very good. What I enjoyed about this movie is that I know and understand the conversations these characters have about the Austen novels. I’ve had these same conversations with my Janeite friends. This movie shows that Jane Austen’s writing is timeless and her characters transcend the early 19th century English countryside in which they lived.
I recommend this movie.