Just ignore the Bugs – “Angels & Insects” by A.S. Byatt

To borrow from Shakespeare, “Angels & Insects” by A.S. Byatt contains two novellas, both alike in dignity.

Or rather, both alike in writing style, detail, and time period.

Far as I’m concerned, I found one to be dull and not worth finishing while the other retained my attention.

The first novella – “Morpho Eugenia” – irritated me and I stopped reading it.  It seems to consist of Victorian-era English folks sitting around talking and thinking about bugs and love, and not a single character in the pages had my attention for any amount of time. (That said, it was made into a movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas, which I’d be curious to see — as maybe I missed something that would have made the story feel worthy of a film adaptation.)

“The Conjugal Angel,” however, held my gaze long enough to honestly say I finished reading it.  Folks of the Victorian era were fascinated by seances, and in this tale a group of mediums are affected by the ghost of Alfred Lord Tennyson.  It’s bizarre, and there’s quite a bit of poetry and a mix of biography and fiction, and I enjoyed it in all it’s weirdness.

A.S. Byatt is obviously a fine writer, and her works (including this one) win awards, as well as become the focus of quite a bit of scholarly work.    That’s all well and good, and the attributes of “Angels & Insects” are plenty.  That said, it might prove a hard book to swallow as a pleasure reader.  This isn’t one that belongs in your beach bag, you know what I mean? I could barely stay focused enough to read it over the hullabaloo of the bus ride home from work.

(If it matters, I scored this book from my Mom, who was about to donate it.  I’ll likely be donating it myself.)


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on July 20, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The movie, titled Angels & Insects, also stars Mark Rylance, who is quite dreamy. It’s a weird, creepy film. It’s worth watching just for Mark, in my opinion.

  2. I’ve heard some great things about Byatt but I’d pass on this one for the title alone. People sitting around talking about bugs would do me no good. The Conjugal Angel sounds somewhat interesting though.

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