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altheaann

altheaann

Currently reading

A Creature of Moonlight
Rebecca Hahn
Saffron And Brimstone: Strange Stories
Elizabeth Hand
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Lois McMaster Bujold
Snow in May: Stories
Kseniya Melnik
Angels and Insects - A.S. Byatt Angels and Insects - A.S. Byatt
(Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel)

This is really two books in one, joined only by the most tenuous of
connections.
The first, Morpho Eugenia, is the story that the 1995 movie 'Angels &
Insects' tells. The film follows the plot of the book faithfully, which
definitely influenced my reading of the book. A shipwrecked naturalist,
William Adamson, is befriended by a wealthy Victorian gentleman, who
invites him to stay at his estate. The naturalist falls in
lust-at-first-sight with one of the gentleman's daughters, Eugenia, and,
to his surprise, is given permission to marry her. They wed and have lots
of children, but in a rather-obvious literary device, Eugenia has no
personality whatsoever. However, another woman, a children's tutor, Matty,
who collaborates with the Adamson on a book about ants, is just brimming
with personality, although he seems oblivious to it. However, when a
Shocking Truth is revealed, things quickly turn out the way the reader saw
that they should have long ago.
The Conjugial Angel, to me, was not as significant a piece. Although it
has some interesting themes and characters, it's rather lacking in plot.
It has to do with mediums in Victorian England, and has lots of
fascinatingly well-researched detail regarding their place in that
society. It's also about the poetry of Tennyson, and about grief and
mourning. It's only tertiarily about Mrs. Papagay, a woman whose lusty
husband, whom she very much loved, has been lost at sea, and how she turns
to being a medium to both make a living and to seek answers for herself.
It's too bad, because Mrs. Papagay is a great character, and I felt that a
more conventional novel structure would have showcased her story
wonderfully.