lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
[personal profile] lunabee34
Babel TowerBabel Tower by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I love this book. I have loved each book in this series more than the previous book. Babel Tower was a quicker read for me than the others, I think because Frederica has a real, tangible problem rather than an existential one (although it is that as well). She's married a man who keeps her shut away in a country house; he won't let her visit her friends or work, and when she finally tries to do both those things, he turns violent. I never realized how difficult it was to obtain a divorce in England as late as the 60s. I just kept being astonished by how Frederica wants what seems absolutely normal to me--to work and be married and have a kid, to be allowed to exercise her intellectual abilities, to have autonomy and agency--but which is so hard won in the the time period in which she lives. Her realization that she loves her child deeply and fiercely while also being limited by him and resentful of the way he causes others to impose their expectations on her rings very, very true to me.

The other main plot point is the publication of a book and its subsequent trial for obscenity. I won't say too much on that because the identity of the author is a bit of a mystery at first, but it's very well done.

Very much looking forward to the final installment in this series.



View all my reviews

(no subject)

18/5/17 01:42 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
Oh, so glad you liked it!

(no subject)

18/5/17 20:43 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
Frederica is a REALLY amazing self-portrait, or just portrait, and there ought to be critical studies done of how she changes from book to book. The experiences she goes through are like the stories you hear from your mother or grandmother or aunties about How Bad Things Were Then and you can't quite believe it, but it happened. But her dreadful imprisonment (basically) at the house is Gothic too, IIRC, and I remember being very moved when her guys show up to rescue her. -- I haven't reread the book in a long time. I remember the Babbletower bits being rather controversial when it first came out, and people were like, Dear sweet poetry-writing A.S. "Possession" Byatt wrote this thing? Why? But it's so good.

Daniel also really grabbed my heart in a way I didn't expect him to. Byatt is quite good at that.

I really didn't like Whistling Woman that much, altho maybe that was also me and I haven't reread the book in quite a while either. I'll be interested to know what you think of it. I think I enjoyed BT so much a WW letdown was inevitable, but that's really not an objective viewpoint.

(no subject)

18/5/17 02:22 (UTC)
china_shop: Newbie reading (Newbie reading)
Posted by [personal profile] china_shop
I loved Possession, but when I tried this (long, long ago) I couldn't finish it because some of the descriptions of torture devices freaked me out. I still remember them even now, whereas I have no recollection at all of the plot. ;-P

(no subject)

18/5/17 03:17 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
....hahaha, that book within a book was VIVID, wasn't it.

(no subject)

18/5/17 20:38 (UTC)
kore: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kore
Yes, she lets you fill it in using your imagination, like Stephen King says about horror radio shows ("You throw open the door and there's a ten-foot bug. The audience screams. But secretly they're thinking, 'A ten-foot bug? Okay, I can handle that. But now if it had been a twenty-foot bug....'")

I was really amazed by Jude. I started out just loathing him, and had this amazing feeling of sympathy -- empathy I guess -- toward him by the end of the book.

I thought for sure I had done review-by-updates on Goodreads, but I can't find it with google, and I haven't logged in there for years and have no desire to anymore.

(no subject)

18/5/17 20:46 (UTC)
sallymn: (books 6)
Posted by [personal profile] sallymn
Sounds like another for the to-read pile...

(no subject)

19/5/17 13:37 (UTC)
chelseagirl: Alice -- Tenniel (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] chelseagirl
I loved this one because of all the legal issues in it. (I have read this series but so long ago that it's not fresh for me -- but this one more recently than the others. Didn't actually realize there was a last one -- hate the way academia weirdly keeps me from keeping up with, uh, books.)

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