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A more genuine look at young adulthood than any teenage wizards could hope to provide.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch "Riveting. His father, Major Prosper Cain, was Special Keeper of Precious Metals. The third boy stayed where he was, drawing intently. Tom said"He concentrates.""He never talks to anyone that I can see. And there are heaps and heaps of stuff lying around waiting to be catalogued, or sent to Bethnal Green. When they reached the Candlestick, the dirty boy was not there."He wasn´t on the stairs," said Julian, obsessed. The whole of its thick stem was wrought of fantastic foliage, amongst which men and monsters, centaurs and monkeys, writhed, grinned, grimaced, grasped and stabbed at each other. It had turned up in the cathedral in Le Mans, from where it had disappeared during the French Revolution. And the young ladies from the Art School took notice of my drawings and sometimes they passed me a sandwich. I did steal one, once, when I was desperate, an egg-and-cress sandwich.

(Which, indeed, some of them were.) They could not see the other boy clearly, because he was on the far side of a case. Julian Cain was at home in the South Kensington Museum. But you can´t see where or when he goes."They sidled along the wrought-iron gallery, which was hung with thick red velvet curtains. He seems to be a permanent fixture." The boy looked up, briefly, his grimy face creased in a frown. ""My father always says the keepers are criminally casual with the keys to the cases. There was something tense about the third boy, a tough prepared energy he didn´t even realise he´d noticed. They went under Prince Albert, out onto the turning stone stairs, down to the South Court. The rim of the spiked cup that held the candle was also supported by open-jawed dragons with wings and snaking tails. Itwas probable that it had been made in Canterbury—modelled in wax and cast—but apart from the symbols of the evangelists on the knop, it appeared not to be made for a religious use. He might still be in there, underneath, his bones that is, if he wasn´t incorrupt.""I haven´t noticed him," said Philip, flatly. People leave a lot on their plates, you´d be surprised.

I wanted more of this ambitious, compelling novel, certainly Byatt’s best since Possession, and possibly her best ever.” —Patricia Hagen, Minneapolis Star Tribune “Unforgettable.

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is the strength and fire of Byatt’s imagination.” —The San Francisco Chronicle“Bristling with life and invention.

A seductive work by an extraordinarily gifted writer.” —The Washington Post“[Byatt’s] magnum opus.

A mesmerizing exploration of, well, everything: families, secrets, love, innocence, corruption, art, the desire for knowledge, nature, politics, war, sex, power.

Byatt is a master storyteller.” —O, The Oprah Magazine “Sweeping. Every stitch of this tapestry is connected to the whole.” —The Seattle Times “[A] masterpiece. This is a classic Byatt fusion of fact and uncannily luscious imagery, mixed in the ideal proportions: not too hot, not too cold—just right.” —Salon “A stunning achievement: a novel of ideas that crackles with passion, energy and emotive force. A fine, rich, fully accomplished novel.” —The Dallas Morning News “A kind of tragic fairy tale, and Byatt does fairy tales wonderfully.” —Newsweek “A fascinating literary achievement. Tom Wellwood, boyish in Norfolk jacket and breeches, was about two years younger, and looked younger than he was, with large dark eyes, a soft mouth and a smooth head of dark gold hair. Tom´s mother was visiting Julian´s father, to ask for help with her research. He had tried its handle, and it was always, as it should be, since it led down to the basement storerooms and workrooms, locked."I bet he went down there.""What´s down there? ""Aye."He was clutching a kind of canvas satchel against his chest, which presumably contained his sketching materials. I hadn´t seen it before."The other boy looked him in the eye, then, with a flicker of a grin."Aye. I see.""You must come along with us.""I see I must. He wore his straight black hair parted in the centre, and was dressed in a school suit. He appeared to be more interested in showing him the squatting boy."I said I´d show you a mystery.""I thought you meant one of the treasures.""No, I meant him. He wasn´t sure if Julian was, so to speak, playing at being responsible."What does he do? Tom thought immediately that hismotherwould need to see it. But he saw that the thing was a whole world of secret stories. It was slightly ajar, which he had never seen before. And they unload and pack things with a deal of bustle, and it´s easy enough to mingle wi´ them, wi´ the carters and lads, and get in.""And the upstairs door? "Which is meant to be locked at all times.""I came across a little key.""Came across? Byatt’s penetrating, unsentimental style hits its mark.