I finished Babel Tower (okay, a while ago). Reading it is kind of like going to college, without the classroom parts. I hear a lot of people are bugged by Byatt’s perhaps relentless academic themes running through her novels, but I thought they were lovely… maybe because I miss thinking about things other than economics in a scholarly way (but I don’t miss classrooms).
I never made it through Possession, but I’ve a mind to try again. I did make it through the movie, though. Oh, Jennifer Ehle [swoon]!
Babel Tower is giant, so you don’t get your simple uninterrupted narrative here. We’ve got the novel within the novel, some court proceedings, some lectures on literature, and a subplot dealing with a committee to review how grammar is taught in schools (interesting stuff!). Like any great book, it’s also about how we think about the self, and how we relate to people. It’s also, naturally, about communication and language. Lovely, lovely.