Here Byatt wrote a fantastic, confident book. For a former literary scholar, it is perfect. Not only does she control two time periods, one that is investigating the other, but she includes full writings and poems from two fake literary geniuses. These excerpts fit the voice and style of Victorian literature and thought. One gets the feeling that they really would be part of the cannon were they really written 150 years ago.
Two young scholars are researching the lives of two Victorian poets. They slowly come to discover the relationship these two poets had together. Meanwhile, Byatt takes us back to the lives of the two poets. It is fun to read the literature through the voice of someone who knows literary criticism. One can see that Byatt is criticizing the profession at the same time she is using its tools to create a great work.
But this book is not good just because it is stylistically clever. There were many parts of this book that took my breath away. Particularly there were some ruminations on death that really struck me--especially since they came from someone who is dead and part of the past for most of the novel.
5 stars out of 5.