It’s a wonderful book, very erudite and clever and moving, as well as being a marvellous satire on biographies and literary criticism and academia. It’s a bit dense at times, because it weaves so much many different forms together – poetry, prose, literacy criticism, psychoanalysis, but it just makes it so real. Byatt’s evocation of Victorian England is wonderful – you really see the pictures she paints with words. And the central love story is so touching and tragic as well, albeit I say ‘central’ but really there are two love stories here, possibly more.
Above all I love the postscript at the end, I can’t explain how much I love it. It really tempers what could otherwise be a very bittersweet ending. Just avoid the dreadful film version of it!