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Widely seen as Eliot's greatest work, it is almost unanimously acclaimed as one of the great Victorian era novels. George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans) interweaves the diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community to create a richly nuanced and moving drama. Hailed by Virginia Woolf in The Times Literary Supplement, 1919 as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
In this comic novel, Mr. Polly is a timid man who prefers reading books of adventure rather than working in a draper's shop. A life with little money and a spiteful wife is one of woe. A disenchanted Mr.Polly plans to burn down his shop and kill himself. His plan fails and a turn of events leads him to a genuinely brighter future, especially after a dead man has been mistakenly identified as Mr.Polly.
A Victorian "sensation novel" par excellence, but perhaps a little challenging for some when it was first published: 'One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction' The Athenaeum reviewer of Armadale (1866). Throughout the novel you know Lydia Gwilt is a wicked woman and that she is out to destroy Alan Armadale, but you can't help wishing her success.
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