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