It's not for everyone -- because of this denseness. And it's not as compelling a story as Byatt's Possession which ranks as one of my favorite books. But I truly enjoyed it and will reread it to revel in all the lush details.
This is what The New Yorker had to say:
Byatt’s mammoth novel, spanning the two and a half decades before the First World War, centers on the Wellwood family, led by a banker with radical inclinations and his wife, the author of best-selling fairy tales. At their country estate, they preside over a motley brood of children and host midsummer parties for fellow Fabians, exiled Russian anarchists, and German puppeteers. But the idyll contains dark secrets, as a potter whom the family takes in for a time discovers. Byatt is concerned with the complex, often sinister relationship between parent and child, which she explores through various works of art—pottery, puppet shows, fairy tales—using them to refract and illuminate the larger narrative. At times, an excess of detail threatens to overwhelm the plot: no aquamarine glaze goes undescribed, no psychological process unmentioned. But, despite risking tedium, the book is ultimately engaging and rewarding. ♦
And then there's The Road to Wellville, T. Coraghessan Boyle's exceedingly comic take on the health food industry in Battle Creek, Michigan in the early 1900's. The book is based on the real Dr. Kellog and I found it pretty hilarious. (There was a movie of the same name which evidently was quite awful.)
Wellville is another fairly dense period piece. There are several plotlines and some outrageous situations. But again -- I enjoy that sort of thing. Here's a review, that will tell you more.