lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
[personal profile] lunabee34
The Virgin in the GardenThe Virgin in the Garden by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like this book, especially after being disappointed by The Game.

The novel follows the intertwining lives of the Potter family members and the people in their orbit. Bill Potter is a teacher at a boarding school; his wife is meek and cowed by his constant anger. Their son Marcus is dissociative, seeing the world in mathematical shapes and intersections of light that deeply frighten and threaten to obliterate him. Marcus is befriended by another teacher at the school who believes that Marcus is some kind of prophet with access to spiritual knowledge. The eldest Potter daughter is Stephanie; she embarks on a combative romance with a local clergyman Daniel. The younger Potter daughter is Frederica, and she marches all over the pages, falling in love with people who are entirely unsuitable for her and being pursued in her turn by the entirely unsuitable.

The backdrop of the novel is a play that Alexander (also a teacher at the boys' school) has written about The Virgin Queen Elizabeth that is debuting just as the current Queen Elizabeth is being crowned. Putting on the play takes up a great deal of the action of the plot.

The writing is dense and layered with tons of historical and literary allusions that are a sheer pleasure to sift through. I absolutely adore the way Byatt stacks clause upon clause, the way she revels in a list (I must as I tend to write that way in my fiction as well LOL).

I am genuinely interested in all the characters and what's going to happen to them. I have immediately begun the next book in the series.

View all my reviews

(no subject)

2/5/17 00:16 (UTC)
wendelah1: Sally from Peanuts looking at a shelf of books (book geek)
Posted by [personal profile] wendelah1
So this takes place in 1953 in Great Britain?

(no subject)

2/5/17 14:29 (UTC)
wendelah1: Fox Mulder reading (reading is fundamental)
Posted by [personal profile] wendelah1
I've never read anything by her yet I read everything by her estranged sister, through The Middle Ground. (My son was born in 1986 and that was the end of reading for a long, long while.) I've had a remained copy of The Peppered Moth sitting around for years.

Back to Byatt. Because of the movie (which I didn't see), I think I tried Possession back in the day and didn't get too far. Don't remember why. Maybe I'll try one of her short story collections if they're available through my library. I might do better with smaller bites. A quartet sounds...daunting.

(no subject)

2/5/17 01:50 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
Oh, I'm SO glad you liked it. The second book is really compelling too. Babel Tower started off slow but really really drew me in, but it took a while.

(no subject)

2/5/17 13:10 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
Frederica's so interesting, I think she's clearly a self-portrait of Byatt, or at least a part of Byatt, and it's so unflattering! It's such a different portrayal from most young women in Bildungsroman (sp), all innocent and righteous &c &c.


(no subject)

2/5/17 21:31 (UTC)
sallymn: (reading 3)
Posted by [personal profile] sallymn
That sounds very much like something I need to read :)


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