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Description - A Whistling Woman by A. S. Byatt

This intoxicating novel stands on its own, while forming a triumphant conclusion to A. S. Byatt's great quartet depicting the clashing forces in English life from the early 1950s to 1970. While Frederica falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to change her life, and those of the people she loves. A Whistling Woman is the ultimate novel of ideas made flesh - gloriously sensual, sexy and scary, bursting with ideas, and wonderful humanity.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099443391
ISBN-10: 0099443392
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 30mm)
Pages: 432
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Sep-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - A Whistling Woman by A. S. Byatt

UK Kirkus Review » A S Byatt has written numerous works of fiction and criticism, all justly acclaimed, but her Frederica Quartet, of which this is the final and greatest volume, is unparalleled in its ability to reach both heart and mind. In The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life and Babel Tower the reader has followed Frederica Potter from clever awkward schoolgirl to mother and lecturer, and now it is the end of the 1960s and Frederica is venturing onto television to present a new arts discussion programme. Meanwhile, in the moor-country where Frederica grew up, the freedom-loving spirit of the decade is being transmuted to something more sinister. The University of North Yorkshire is challenged by an 'anti-university' dedicated to escaping the restraints of the syllabus and reclaiming self-expression, and a religious community led by a damaged charismatic is led away from its therapeutic foundations to a terrifying form of Manichaeism. This is a novel foaming with ideas - art, science, love, freedom, redemption, evolution and a host of other themes flow from every page. Byatt's delight in making connections is obvious and infectious, especially in her descriptions of Frederica's dazzlingly erudite television programmes, and although she sometimes gets carried away from her narrative she always takes the reader with her. Her ability as a writer is also evident in the way she marshals her plot; despite the vast number of characters and ideas she never loses momentum, and the sense - increasingly - that something dreadful is going to happen. But her greatest achievement is her depiction of character. Early in the book Byatt says of Frederica's feelings for her son, Leo, 'the person she was recognised fiercely and absolutely the person he was, and respected him', and the same can be said for Byatt's attitude to her creations, each of whom - from sharp clever Frederica to the gentle Vice-Chancellor Wijnnobel and the obsessive cult leader Joshua Ramsden - seems to have an independent existence off the page as well as on it. This is an astonishing book, simultaneously gripping and intoxicating, and dazzling with the depth and range of its insight. A masterpiece. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - A. S. Byatt

A.S. Byatt is internationally acclaimed as a novelist, short story-writer and critic. Her books include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. Educated at York and Newnham College, Cambridge, she taught at the Central School of Art and Design, and was Senior Lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.

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