Hmmm. I'm really torn about this book. On the one hand, the writing was excellent. On the other, it was very bizarre. Lots of insect imagery and themes in the first story, Morpho Eugenia. I felt it was…too much, however.
Although the writing itself was exquisite, I just think I don’t like A.S. Byatt’s style very well. She has a way of telling stories that I find to be very off-putting. She’ll start the story - getting the narrative ball rolling and making me like all of the characters - and then she’ll stop the story, interjecting a thousand different, unrelated poems and fairy tale fables. In Morpho Eugenia’s case, she stopped the story countless times to give the reader very dry, tehcnical narrations on ant behavior. While germane to the story, I felt like I was reading a textbook. Towards the end of the book, the main storyline drops almost completely, becoming a rather dull collection of made-up fables and ant behavior texts, without very much attention to the main characters. It made the end events seem like a surprise, since the character development had all but ground to a halt in the middle of story, leaving little time for the organic character development needed to make the ending believable.
I attempted the second story, but couldn’t get into it at all. Something about Tennyson? Dead lovers? Usually, I’d be all over that, but again - Byatt’s attempts to interject a bunch of faintly related material into the narrative left me cold. Ultimate rating: C (2.5 stars)