The main character is a young architect. A creative designer — he is visionary and innovative the use of materials. Before he can finish his formal training, a conflict with a teacher leads to his expulsion. So he has an extra challenge to breaking into his profession.
Another major character is a highly intelligent and independent woman. She loves the architect, but she has a confused, extreme, and occasionally idiosyncratic way of defining and pursuing her independence, which puts her in conflict with the architect.
Another key character is a younger man, who is dominated by his social-climber mother. To achieve his desired position in life, he manipulates, deceives, and otherwise maneuvers four men out of the way to get where he wants to be.
The book is Ken Follett’s World Without End. The characters mentioned above are Merthin, Caris, and Godwyn.
Before I read the book last summer, Marsha Enright recommended it to me and suggested that I would find in it strong echoes of another, classic work. Enright has published an article on the comparisons, along with a recommendation. I’m glad to second her recommendation, for World Without End is in its own right a gripping story, historically rich, and thematically deep. And she’s right about the striking parallels.