Genre: Fiction; Author: Jude Morgan; Publisher: St. Martin's Press

This lustrous historical romance sprawls for 536 glorious pages, pages that are packed with gargantuan characters, legendary scandals, tragedy, and, yes, Passion. Jude Morgan captures the spirit of early-19th-century Britain through the extraordinary lives of the wives and lovers of its greatest poets. He channels cool, cerebral Mary Godwin (an accomplished writer in her own right, as the author of Frankenstein), who eloped with Percy Shelley when she was 16, and he makes us feel the exquisite agony of Byron’s spurned lover, Caroline Lamb, the quintessential woman who loves too much. Perhaps most remarkable is his crystalline portrait of Augusta Leigh, the mild-mannered housewife who seduced her ”mad, bad” half brother Byron with her ”beautiful calm.” With empathy and formidable imagination, Morgan brings these iconic females — and the Romantic era — to full, resplendent life.

Originally posted November 9 2005 — 12:00 AM EST

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