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Passion: a novel of the Romantic poets, Jude Morgan

This historical fiction novel focuses on the women who loved Shelley, Byron, and Keats, and how these three poets had a profound effect on their lives and loves.

It was certainly interesting. I knew little about these poets’ lives and I feel somewhat enlightened, at least as much as I can verify as truth, and I think Morgan managed to capture the attitude of the time very well and the inspiration for these poets’ greatest works. Some of the women were sympathetic characters, especially Mary and Fanny, but the novel spent far too much time on Caroline Lamb, who was the least interesting and had the least influence on any of the poets. I felt sorry for her in a strange sort of way, but during her parts it felt as though the plot wasn’t moving and I was far more interested in getting back to the other women. Fanny disappears for about 200 pages, which is a shame because I liked her.

Except for the fact that the plot is loose and doesn’t move much, it’s a good book. There is certainly a plot there, but the tension is occasionally ruined by a focus on other, less interesting characters. I understand that real life is not like a novel, but a novelist should structure the work to keep the reader interested, not focus on characters whose importance to the book faded halfway through.

I liked the variety of prose styles; occasionally Morgan tosses in a first person perspective or a play, which seems like it could be too clever but worked well. I liked her writing in general and I liked some of the characters. Another good historical fiction, but not great.

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