I finished The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt yesterday. She paints a rather vivid picture of the world back then but I am wondering whether to give it a 3 or a 4 (out of 5). I I think she was trying to do too much, make too many points. Also, the ending was frustrating.
Okay, so we have 5 families in 1890s England. This makes for a lot of characters and 4 of the families have quite a few secrets. By the end of the book, you know all these secrets, except for the two main ones. This is what makes the ending so infuriating. Yes, you have maybe an 80% certainty of what went on but you'll never really know (I'm being vague for brevity and lack of spoilers).
With all the different characters and quite a bit of exposition about the times that sometimes feels like a textbook (yes, an engaging textbook but a textbook, nonetheless), the moral, thesis, point, thing gets muddled. Also, I wasn't able to become attached to any of the many characters, with the possible exceptions of Dorothy and Phillip. I'm not sorry I read it, though.