Many contemporary novelists shy away from using a big canvas. Not A.S. Byatt, so that there is a retro sort of pleasure in reading her books, as if there was one more Eliot or Forster work that turned up. BT is wonderful brain candy in its many explorations of language--not only the what and the way something is said, but what it can and cannot accurately reveal about the speaker or writer.
That sounds utterly dry, but the book certainly isn't. Frederica is still exasperating, but very much worth rooting for as she feels her way back from a disastrous marriage to a life with meaning during the mid-sixties when everything began to change. Jude Mason also leaves an indelible impression.
One more thing ... oh, Stephanie.