It is difficult to describe the scope and artistry of this thoroughly beautiful book. From the outset the two characters are characterized with the utmost sympathy and, yes, humour. But it is a sad, sad tale, and ultimately a lush portrayal of love and the difficulty people find in connecting with others. And it is told in such a fresh, unique way! Although in some sense deeply rooted in its period it is still a timeless portrayal of society and the pressures it places on each of us to conform.
I love the great understatement near the beginning of the book, something like, "Lucinda's parents had raised a square peg in a country that was made up entirely of round holes."
I always love books where two characters from completely different worlds collide. Let's face it, this book was never going to have a happy ending, although it would have been great if it had. I'm glad that the film version was changed; both it and the book are immensly entertaining in their own ways (Cate Blanchett is superlatively ethereal as Lucinda in the film).
The trials and troubles of both characters are lovely, and I thoroughly loved the '19th century set pieces,' that the book opens with. An eccentric view of the lives of two people. Both are forced to sink or swim... One swims, the other sadly sinks, but only after they both play their parts in one of the greatest romances in literature.
Rewarding, thoroughly deserving (for once) of the Booker Prize, I think this is one of the best books ever written.