This book irritated the life out of me and if I could give it less than one star, I would. It took AGES to finish because I hated every bit of it. I only persevered with it because it was on the "1001 Books you Need to Read Before you Die" list, otherwise, it might have gone into the recycling bin. The writing style was intensely irritating and obviously written by a woman with bizarrely named individualys interracting randomly with way too much descriptive narrative. I would have loved to have yelled at the author "FOR GOD'S SAKE GET ON WITH IT"!!! It wasn't the type of story I assumed it would be when I began reading it, and instead was a group of well-meaning upper class people having various meetings about people's rights. I tried to be more tolerant by rationalising that if these well-meaning posh people had not had these meetings, I would not be enjoying the freedoms I do today ... but that tolerance lapsed once Byatt lapsed into ever more descriptive twaddle. Felt VERY depressed when I noticed that she has another book on the list. I have absolutely no idea why. I'm sure my life would be more complete without the angst of having to endure another one of her energy sapping novels.