ratings · Published: Mar 29th, 1994
These two fascinating novellas, like A. S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel Possession, are set in the mid-nineteenth century, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance. "Morpho Eugenia" is a lively Gothic fable of the Earthly Paradise, of the Victorian obsession with Darwinian theories of breeding and sexuality and the parallels between insect and human society - the capture and taming of nature, whether it be a young woman in a country house or a rare butterfly, gleaming in the forests of the Amazon. "The Conjugial Angel" concerns Tennyson's In Memoriam, published in 1850, mourning the death seventeen years before of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily. A philosophical ghost story, bizarre, comic, and moving, in which fictive mediums meet "real" characters, it explores the contemporary preoccupation with God and life after death. Resonant, magical, entirely original, this is A. S. Bryant at her best.