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"Electrotypes," whispered the knowledgeable Julian. A faint but steady light rippled over the metal, through little glass roundels let into the brickwork. Julian and Tom turned to look down the other fork of the corridor, which was obstructed by a forest of imitation marble pillars, made to support busts or vases. There was more light to the left, so they went that way, negotiated another unlocked grille, and found themselves in a treasure-house of vast gold and silver vessels, croziers, eagle-winged lecterns, fountains, soaring angels and grinning cherubs. A fine, rich, fully accomplished novel.” —The Dallas Morning News “A kind of tragic fairy tale, and Byatt does fairy tales wonderfully.” —Newsweek “A fascinating literary achievement. Tom Wellwood, boyish in Norfolk jacket and breeches, was about two years younger, and looked younger than he was, with large dark eyes, a soft mouth and a smooth head of dark gold hair. Tom´s mother was visiting Julian´s father, to ask for help with her research. He had tried its handle, and it was always, as it should be, since it led down to the basement storerooms and workrooms, locked."I bet he went down there.""What´s down there? ""Aye."He was clutching a kind of canvas satchel against his chest, which presumably contained his sketching materials. I hadn´t seen it before."The other boy looked him in the eye, then, with a flicker of a grin."Aye. I see.""You must come along with us.""I see I must. He wore his straight black hair parted in the centre, and was dressed in a school suit. He appeared to be more interested in showing him the squatting boy."I said I´d show you a mystery.""I thought you meant one of the treasures.""No, I meant him. He wasn´t sure if Julian was, so to speak, playing at being responsible."What does he do? Tom thought immediately that hismotherwould need to see it. But he saw that the thing was a whole world of secret stories. It was slightly ajar, which he had never seen before. And they unload and pack things with a deal of bustle, and it´s easy enough to mingle wi´ them, wi´ the carters and lads, and get in.""And the upstairs door? "Which is meant to be locked at all times.""I came across a little key.""Came across? [It] brings to vivid life the often irreconcilable demands of being an artist and being a human being.” —The Wall Street Journal “Wonderful, engaging. Let´s stalk him."There was no light, beyond what was cast on the upper steps from the door they had opened. At the foot of the staircase they found themselves cut off by a metal grille, beyond which stretched a long corridor, now vaguely visible as though there was a light-source at the other end. He was looking at them much as they were looking at him, as though he couldn´t quite grasp that they were real. ""Miles and miles of passages and cupboards and cellars, and things being moulded, or cleaned, or just kept. He said "We can´t see where we´re going.""We´ll leave the door open a crack.""Someone may come and lock it. I live here."They crept down the uneven stone steps, holding a thin iron rail. Amazing, it is."Julian spoke severely."You must come and explain yourself to my father.""Oh, your father. Byatt fills a huge canvas with the political and social changes that swept the world in those years . It’s not a tale you’ll soon forget.” —USA Today “Intricately crafted, deeply satisfying. She elicits great compassion of the individual beings caught in that tableau.
Byatt is a master storyteller.” —O, The Oprah Magazine “Sweeping.
Every stitch of this tapestry is connected to the whole.” —The Seattle Times “[A] masterpiece.
This is a classic Byatt fusion of fact and uncannily luscious imagery, mixed in the ideal proportions: not too hot, not too cold—just right.” —Salon “A stunning achievement: a novel of ideas that crackles with passion, energy and emotive force.
A richly peopled narrative that encompasses an unusual breadth of artistic, intellectual, social, and political concerns . Here is a novel in which everything matters.” —Boston Sunday Globe “Uncompromisingly erudite. Tom thought they might be prisoners in the underworld, or even the damned.
[Byatt is] a master builder, laying each brick of her tower with consummate skill. He observed that this, too, should have been locked. The passage opened into a dusty vault, crammed with a crowd of white effigies, men, women and children, staring out with sightless eyes.