It's a fascinating story, and the writing is gorgeous at times. I am not one to highlight, but there were times I wish I had marked some of the more beautiful passages. I felt for most of the characters, and I enjoyed the very descriptive writing. Very different from other books I've read recently, where you get swept up in the story; this author is meticulous in setting up each scene, describing everything to the tiniest detail. Sometimes, this is worthwhile, and other times, I wish she would just get on with it.
At almost 800 pages, it's simply too heavy-handed. I feel like the story could've been told just as effectively and more enjoyably with about 200 fewer pages. There were times I found myself skimming through some of the more descriptive paragraphs that did not advance the plot in any way. But then I'd get caught up in a gorgeous, thoughtful sentence that would slow me back down.
"Isn't that the whole point of things--beautiful things--that they connect you to some larger beauty?"
Overall, it's wonderful. But you have to work for it.