Hmmm. On the one hand, this is the book that China Miéville's Iron Council should have been. Complex, interesting characters, a sparsely sketched yet believable social set-up, just the corner of the irrational (the mysterious "aether", discovered in 1678, and the cornerstone of England's prosperity, but which has dreadful effects on those it touches directly). The literary references are on the whole to those Dickens novels I haven't read, and to Hardy who I haven't read at all, but for all that the cliches of nineteenth-century Britain are well-enough known that it all made sense to me (the revolution is clearly 1848, or just possibly Paris 1870, rather than 1968). So a deep and absorbing novel.
But the start is awfully off-putting - took me several goes to even begin properly. Once I was in it, I was flying, and found it easy enough to follow. But I still felt it could have been done more efficiently and briefly, in say 300 pages rather than 450. Maybe that makes it Great Literature, and me a philistine. I don't know.