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In possession of all the facts

No one melds history, drama and ideas with more panache than AS Byatt. So it's a shame that her latest novel leaves readers so little to do other than admire

By Julian Evans   May 2009

The Children’s Book By AS Byatt (Chatto & Windus, £18.99)

In the pageant of English fiction AS Byatt stands at the head of one especially successful writers’ guild: the literary-historical novelists. Other distinguished members include Pat Barker, Sebastian Faulks and Ian McEwan. All write in a lushly empirical, historically informed, richly narrative vein, but none strives for quite the same density of effect as Byatt, whose work is equally steeped in the splashy colours of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the long dignity of the English literary canon, and the liberated, free-flowing style of feminism and fairytales. It is also difficult…

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