Ok, so first, let me just say, that I'm not too fond of the Romantic poets. I do not study the Romantic period, and my only connection to the texts of the Romantic period comes in two forms: 1) I really did dig the poetry of Byron and Shelley when I was in high school, and later Keats in college, and 2) I do teach the Survey of British Literature II, and thus I've got to give the quick and dirty overview of the Romantic period in there.
So, you might be asking, why did I pick up this novel by Jude Morgan, a student of Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury, Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets on my last library trip? Well, there are a few reasons:
1) I do enjoy the historical fiction. Has anybody else out there read any of those books by Margaret George? Awesome.
2) A friend of mine had just been telling me about a horrible book she'd read that seemed to be of the same ilk, and so I thought I should see if this was anything like it.
3) You can't go wrong with a book entitled "Passion" before the colon.
So. The first thing is, the book is long. Very long. That said, it's engrossing, and I liked that it was long because short, easy books I generally get through in a few hours, and this took me almost a week of pretty steady reading. The writing is interesting, as the p.o.v. shifts between each of the different women in the lives of the poets, and each has a distinct voice and perspective both on the historical moment and on the Great Man whom she loves. The book isn't sentimental, and it presents all of the sexual escapades of the poets (oh yes, for in a book entitled Passion there must be, well, Passion, though there isn't any explicit porn ala Judith Krantz, it's more hinted at) in a way that is completely unfazed.
Is it the best book I ever read? No. Was it a great book to read during a week in the summertime? Totally.
2 years ago