- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Feb. 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099800403
- ISBN-13: 978-0099800408
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Possession: A Romance Paperback – 7 Feb 1991
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"Literary critics make natural detectives", says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser- known "fairy poetess" and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud's discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long- forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte's passion.
Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize, Possession is a gripping and compulsively readable novel. A.S. Byatt exquisitely renders a setting rich in detail and texture. Her lush imagery weaves together the dual worlds that appear throughout the novel--the worlds of the mind and the senses, of male and female, of darkness and light, of truth and imagination--into an enchanted and unforgettable tale of love and intrigue. --Lisa Whipple
"A triumphant success on every level" (Cosmopolitan)
"Teeming with more ideas than a year's worth of ordinary novels" (Spectator)
"This is a novel for every taste: a heartbreaking Victorian love story, a take-no-prisoners comedy of contemporary academic life, and an unputdownable supernatural mystery. You turn the last page feeling stunned and elated, happy to have had the chance to read it" (Washington Post)
"Possession is eloquent about the intense pleasures of reading. And, with sumptuous artistry, it provides a feast of them" (Sunday Times)
"Our best novelist" (Evening Standard)
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Top Customer Reviews
The point is that it's the Victorians this book is about. I know I'm not supposed to get into debates with other reviewers but... More than one has said 'skip the poetry' and even 'skip the letters'. Please give the poetry a go and certainly read the letters. Without these, the letters especially, you won't understand Ash and LaMotte properly. When you do this lifts the book way beyond a literary detective yarn. It does need patience, which is hardly a modern virtue, but the rewards are worth it.
Let me deal first with my friend's warnings... Yes, 'Possession' does contain large amounts of poetry. It is probably possible to read, comprehend and enjoy the novel whilst skipping over all or most of the poetry, although I tend to feel that the poems are an indispensable part of the overall magic of the work. At the other extreme, there may be avid poetry readers that devote a lot of time trying to fully interpret the poems. For the record, I took a middle path of reading the poetry without being overly concerned at the references and allusions that escaped me. Although the poems are not masterpieces in themselves, they do give insights into the character of the two poets, and references in the poems are sometimes tied into developments in the main prose narrative. And most of all, they are enjoyable reading - particularly for those of us that rarely make the effort to read poetry nowadays. With regard to the second warning, 'Possession' does make significant though not impossible demands on the reader, particularly in the early stages due to the multiple plotlines and range of new characters. I read the 500-odd pages in just under two days (rescheduling a couple of social activities!) and would recommend such intensive reading for those that can make the time; conversely, I suggest that this is not a book that can be approached as a casual read over a long period of time.Read more ›
A S Byatt has written the story in a series of essays, poems, letters, and straightforward narrative. Don't let this put you off; I would encourage you to read the book first in the easier-to-read version (letters and narrative) and then reread it in its entireity so you can pick up on all the little clues, metaphors and references which you will have missed on the first reading. The novel can be a little hardgoing but like the best in life it is truly worth it. A heartbreaking story of the past entwines with the joyous potential of the future, expertly structured and lovingly written.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Haven't read it but I have been recommended it by my English teacherPublished 2 months ago by Jessica
I am currently re-reading "Possession". My original copy disintegrated with being re-read (Oh the horrors of "perfect" binding! Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mary Seymour
'Possession' is a masterpiece. I expected to find it rather dull and worthy,but it's anything but! Trying to define it or tie it down is impossible, indeed futile. Read morePublished 3 months ago by LJM
Good, but not amazing. I found some of the poetry heavy going and preferred AS Byatt's The Children's Book.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This may seem a daunting read, but do not be put off by its size, or by negative reviews. It is only by reading it properly, and not skipping the poetry that the full magic of the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carrie
I'm going to give this book five stars, but warning ... here comes a warning. Possession is really two books. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bibliomage
A.S.Byatt's novel "Possession" won the Man Booker prize over twenty years ago when it was still an indication of quality writing but I've only just got round to reading it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gervase T. M. Shorter
STILL researching Whitby's literary heritage and I stumbled across this one which details the journeyings of a number of obsessive academics in their researches into a Victorian... Read morePublished 8 months ago by V. G. Harwood