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Frederica Potter, 'doomed to be intelligent', plunges into Cambridge University life greedy for knowledge, sex and love. In Yorkshire her sister Stephanie has abandoned academe for the cosy frustration of the family. In this sequel to her much praised The Virgin in the Garden, and the second in a magnificent quartet, A. S. Byatt illuminates the inevitable conflicts between ambition and domesticity, confinement and self-fulfilment, while providing a subtle yet incisive observation of the intellectual and cultural life in England during the 1950s.
A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the Frederica Quartet; The Children's Book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999 and is the recipient of the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her 'inspiring contribution to life writing'.