An impressive work of staggering vastness that would have definitely added Byatt to the canon of world-class authors if Possession hadn’t already won her a place. The story begins in 1895 and focuses on the two Wellwood families and their friends the Cains, to which Byatt adds the Fludds, Warrens, and Sterns, and an assortment of supporting characters. And because that’s not quite enough she adds in an overview of events in Europe at the beginning of each era in her book. Every page is a glut of evocative description. Grief, passion, anger, love. Landscapes, furniture, pottery, jewellery, plays. All expertly delineated. Her characters write stories and plays within the context of the book, and these are reproduced in it, an execution I’ve always loved. Byatt is an incredible author whose creative genius has yet to fail to impress.