This is a beautifully written novel. Its got some journeyman flaws, its a little uneven and lumpy in a few spots, but on the whole its exceptionally well drawn, all the characters are wonderful and it has an unshakeable sense of place, of being rooted in all the complex interlinking minutiae that make up the ecology of a real landscape and a real society.
So why four stars? Because eventually I just got fed up with watching people kick Maggie Tulliver around. If she'd ever once gotten even a little bit angry
with any of the many mostly well meaning people who treat her like complete crap, if she'd ever even tried to fight back, even if she failed, well I'd be so on her side. But as it is, its like reading an exceptionally beautifully written Mr Bill show. Watch Sluggo and Mr Hand take away absolutely everything that makes Maggie's life worth having one by one by one, and stomp on her head in passing. Oh NOOOO Mr Bill!
At some point, for me, it just becomes too melodramatic, too "may I have some more sir," and I end up just irritated with the character and the author. Get up and DO something woman! Stop letting everybody kick you around the landscape, what are you, a punching bag?
*Your mileage may vary.