In 1953, at an isolated boys’ school in the Yorkshire moors, is a young teacher, Alexander Wedderburn, whose imagination had been captured by the Queen Elizabeth of Shakespeare and Spenser and who has written an historical verse play about her. Now, suddenly, his play has been taken up by a wealthy patron of the arts who envisions its production on the most magnificent scale, for it is to be the climax of a local festival honoring the new Queen Elizabeth.
The novel holds us in suspense as it carries us to the great event of the play itself - in its midsummer-night’s atmosphere of dream, of magic, of transforming revelry - that will alter forever the course of all the characters’ lives.
A. S. Byatt was educated at York and at Newham 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 is a distinguished critic and reviewer as well as a novelist.
"Narrator [Wanda McCaddon] has a sprightly tone and keeps things moving, not an insignificant achievement since much of the plot development occurs in the characters’ thoughts and inner reactions to events around them." (Library Journal)
"[McCaddon] reads with a heavy British accent which suits the reading.… Her narration is solid, energetic, and well inflected." (Kliatt)
"Large, complex, ambitious, humming with energy and ideas…a remarkable achievement." (Iris Murdoch)
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