23 Feb 2011 – passed to me by a colleague

Excellent, thick, satisfying read, following the fortunes of a group of interconnected families from the 1880s through WWI. As usual, Byatt is very good at tying in the social/economic/cultural movements of history with the personal lives of her characters – there is a real feeling of the march of history in this – and she works in some of her genre-mimicking work too.  Good on women's expanding lives and the increased ability to cross class boundaries, and on the pull between motherhood and creativity. And all these people strive against the patterns they were born into, only to come up against the monolithic horror of War. The war sections were horrific – and so they should have been.

I did get a Murdochian feel about this – the mixed characters and particularly the role of stones in the book – I wonder whether that was deliberate.