First of all, I'd give this book 2.5 stars. It's not terrible, but parts of it are quite frustrating to read.The novel tells the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and since I find her sonnets beautiful, I thought it would be interesting. From the cover blurb, one would think that it primarily covers her romance with Robert Browning, but the book actually starts earlier than that. For the first hundred or so pages, we mainly get a feel for Elizabeth's life as the overly sheltered 36-year-old daughter of a very controlling father. Suffering from ill health (or at least claiming to - the author is somewhat ambiguous as to whether Elizabeth was truly ill or whether some of it was psychologically based), Elizabeth (Ba) very rarely leaves her own room.We quickly learn that Ba's father has forbidden any of his many children to marry, and even though most are adults, he controls their daily lives to a degree that would be unthinkable today. In addition to Ba's almost worshipful attitude toward her manipulative father, we also see her constantly using her claims of ill health to manipulate others herself and it's a frustrating cycle to watch. Though we are told of Ba's literary reputation, her work is not quoted within the text much in the first part of the book, and we see less of Ba the poet and more of her as a whimpering invalid who seems to quail at even the slightest discomfort. Her character in this book is the embodiment of the overly fussy lady with fits of nerves that we more often see in satire. Things improve by the time Robert Browning comes into the picture, but Ba had grown so tiresome by that point that I really had a hard time caring. I think the author did a good job of researching her characters and their times, but Elizabeth was just not a very likable or compelling heroine.