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  Middlemarch (1872) by George Eliot  
George Eliot
Set in the small provincial town of Middlemarch, the narrative follows several strands. But it's the story of Dorothea Brooke which captures the imagination.

Young Dorothea Brooke decides to marry ageing cleric, Casaubon, against the advice of her family. When he dies, Dorothea marries his nephew, Will. In marrying, she sets aside her own dreams.

Dorothea's story epitomises the frustration of intelligent young women in the 19th century who fought to find roles for themselves in the world.
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