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Interesting but ultimately disappointing
on August 5, 2009
I had high hopes for the latest Byatt novel and sat down to enjoy this very long novel but I have to say that I found it disappointing.
There are simply far too many characters in the novel and the author picks them up and lays them down without any sustained development which might hold the reader's interest.
I think she bit off far too much and in the end crammed far too much into the novel - even venturing into WWI very cursorily. It all felt very rushed towards the end.
At the same time Byatt lingers lovingly over minute details of a vase or piece of sculpture which, although interesting initially, over the course of the novel becomes quite irritating.
She seems more comfortable working in miniature and much less comfortable with managing the grand sweep of the narrative structure.
She is such a master of language that I was surprised to discover repetitive use of adjectives in the same sentence. I think a good editor should have corrected some of the more obvious and annoying repetitions.
Although my review seems negative I would still recommend the novel even though it did not fully live up to my expectations. Such a pity though that Byatt crammed all this material into one novel.