This is not the longest book I’ve ever read, though it comes close – trailing just behind World Without End and War and Peace, and probably The Lord of the Rings too, if we count that as a single book – but it certainly feels like the longest. I started it back in October, and since then it’s been flowing quietly along beneath the other books I’ve been reading like some great leviathan. Now and then I’ve put it aside for a bit, but its shadow has always been there, flickering at the corner of my eye. Finishing it feels like a major accomplishment. If I had a spare bottle of champagne, I’d be tempted to open it.