The Metaphysics of Sex is the second volume of Valerie Townsend Bayer's Marlborough Gardens Quartet, following her first novel, City of Childhood.
Just possibly, Bayer's tetralogy will one day be to the 1990s what Durrell's Alexandria Quartet was to the fifties and sixties and Scott's Raj Quartet was to the sixties and seventies.
It is that luxurious, multiplicitous, and profoundly human.
The quartet is the story of a wealthy Victorian English banking family, the Forsters, their friends and enemies, their dramas and their passions - sexual passions in particular - from 1835 forward.
It's a vast and substantial literary canvas. Bayer's models were George Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray, and Trollope, with a difference: They could not portray the truth and fantasy of their characters' sexual lives. The Metaphysics of Sex is a twentieth-century novel, as, say, Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman and Byatt's Possession are.