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This triumphant conclusion to A. S. Byatt's great quartet of postwar English life and manners stands on its own as a magical and thought-provoking novel of ideas made flesh. Frederica, the spirited heroine of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower, falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, while tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to split her world. In the late 1960s, the languages of religion, myth, and fairy tale overlap with the terms of science and the new computer age. The meaning of love itself seems to vanish and people flounder, often comically, while searching for their true sexual, intellectual, and emotional identities. Through her wayward, lovingly drawn characters and breathtaking twists of plot, A. S. Byatt illuminates the effervescence of intellectual and social life in 1960s Britain.