I see what A S Byatt is doing here. I understand that the world of the characters is a microcosm of all the ideas and movements that arose in the mid to late 19th century as a reaction against the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation of the world. I get that the interwoven fairy stories and puppet plays are all subversive and deep and meaningful and a reflection of how they are all playing parts in a childlike, idealised world they have created. I totally respect how clever and amazing A S Byatt is and well done her for all of her research and nice metaphors. She writes beautifully and the world she has created is marvellously depicted and really comes to life on the pages. She has clearly put a lot of passion and energy and knowledge into this book and there have been passages that have been so beautifully written that they have momentarily made me thankful that I started it. It is not all bad, and I do wish to stress this.
But seriously, woman! 600 plus pages?! Really? REALLY?!
I am only finishing this because there are moments of brilliance amongst the annoyingness and I have come too far now not to see it through to the bitter end. But I am not happy about it. And wherever she is, I hope she knows I am not happy about it. I have never suffered so in reading a book. War and Peace has become a novella in comparison to the behemoth that is The Children’s Book.
Await a wrathful review some time this week.