I quote Anthony Trollope:
I doubt whether any young person can read with pleasure Felix Holt, Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch. I know they are very difficult to many that are not young. George Eliot struggles too hard to do work that is excellent. She lacks ease. Latterly...her style has become occasionally obscure from her too great desire to be pungent. It is impossible not to feel the struggle...
I agree that I did not find this work as enjoyable as Eliot's earlier works, The Mill on the Floss, Adam Bede, and Silas Marner. However, Middlemarch is still a great work and worthy of reading entirely at least once and in parts, several times.
George Eliot was an authoress at a time when it was difficult to be accepted as producing anything serious. It was a time of difficulty for a woman to be anything other than a wife. To have a great mind and intellect, as she obviously had, was not rewarded and commended as it would have been in our times. She was in the main a self taught and self made woman. If her later works jar somewhat in Eliot's efforts to be taken seriously, this is forgivable if only for the excellence otherwise of her works.
Middlemarch is a story of provincial life. The detailing of small events in the life of these people is amazing, as is the scope of this work. The two protagonists, Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, are finely drawn and make two of the finest characterizations in literature. Dorothea Brooke I especially loved. It is in female characterization that Eliot excels and as a woman, I feel grateful to her that she portrayed the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the females in her stories so well. Along with these 2 are a host of other characters who are equally well drawn until they become as well known as people from my own time; maybe even better because Eliot was so adept at revealing the inner as well as visible life.
If the story had not had Eliot's lapses into her own inner struggles with proving the worth of an intellectual female in her own society, this would have been a solid 5 star. But even with these laboured parts, it is still a magnificent work.
If you have not read Eliot before, I suggest you start with one of her earlier novels, such as The Mill of the Floss, but at some point in your life, Middlemarch is something you should read.