Thursday, February 05, 2009

Book Review: "Angels & Insects"

A. S. Byatt's Angels & Insects contains two separate and unconnected novellas: "Morpho Eugenia" and "The Conjugial Angel." The first is Byatt at close to her best, and the second, unfortunately, was just about the opposite for me. In "Morpho," she explores the strange ways of a secluded Victorian family, weaving natural history into the mix in a really fascinating way (as she did with some of the pieces in her The Biographer's Tale). The heady mix of religion, science, and good old-fashioned ant-watching made this story a good read.

"Angel," however, is Byam at her most meta. Far too much digression and linguistic flummery for my liking. I got bored and wanted to quit. I'm sure others who enjoy this style more will enjoy the second portion of the book far more than I did.