The synopsis that I read of the book really doesn't encompass the meaning of the story, as the transporting of the "Crystal Palace" doesn't occur until the last quarter of the book.
Lucinda is a bad-tempered young heiress, who didn't grow up in money, but came into early in adulthood. She desperately tries to be accepted as a business-woman, but the current social and cultural expectations at the time prevent her from doing so, and thus cause her anguish. Oscar is an Anglican revered. He believes in the Bible literally and faultlessly, and lives in his own little world, an "Odd Bod," unaware of the world at large.
These two characters meet based on their interest in gambling. Yet, this interest is only the beginning tie. They are drawn to each other by something more - their loneliness from society. Their actual romance in the book is little. This isn't that kind of story.
Is the ending about redemption of sin? Was it self-imposed? Or fate? I was certainly surprised at the ending. I didn't expect a neat package tied up with a bow, but I also didn't expect what happened. The optimist in me, perhaps?
Now that I have finished the story, there are many themes that are now glaring at me that I didn't take the time to absorb. Only at the close did I appreciate the magnitude of Oscar and Lucinda. At times it does seem to move slow. Carey likes to introduce side characters, albeit they do have important functions. His character development was absolutely charming and appreciated.
I hesitate from giving this 5 stars, partly from the way Carey meandered in the beginning, describing Oscar's life. He described Lucinda's in much less, which gave obvious favoritism to Oscar. And the unreliable narrator! I wanted to understand how the narrator knew about everything that had occurred.