Middlemarch by George Elliot
Dorothea Brooke is a beautiful and idealistic young woman set on filling her life with good deeds. She pursues the pompous Edward Casuabon, convinced that he embodies these principles, and becomes trapped in an unhappy marriage. Then there is Tertius Lydgate, an anguished progressive whose determination to bring modern medicine to the provinces is muddied by unrequited love. They, and a multitude of other brilliantly drawn characters, reside in the town Middlemarch – the background to George Eliot’s incomparable portrait of Victorian life.