Possession
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Possession : A Romance

3.87 (58,468 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 528 pages
  • 124 x 198 x 36mm | 358.34g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099800403
  • 9780099800408
  • 18,201

About A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt is internationally acclaimed as a novelist, short story writer and critic. Educated at York and Newnham College, Cambridge, she taught at the Central School of Art and Design, and was Senior lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999. Her most recent novel is The Children's Book.show more

Review Text

Booker Prize Winner 1990. When the love letters of Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, Victorian poets, are discovered, rival academics Maud Bailey and Roland Mitchell combine forces to solve the mystery of their parting, in the process uncovering an even greater enigma. Possession benefits from Byatt's abiding interest in Victorian poetry - she has, for example, edited collections of Robert Browning - and the pastiches of poetry and letters which she creates for the blighted lovers, and uses to propel their narrative, are of an unparalleled fluency and plausibility. Mitchell and Bailey's own story echoes the melodrama and excitement of Ash and LaMotte's, mimicking the scope of a Victorian novel. The novel's popularity with critics and a wider public is justified: it is deeply researched, and the fruits of that knowledge of Victorian literature and mores are made accessible to the general reader, and both sets of narratives are utterly gripping. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

"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 Standardshow more

Back cover copy

'A triumphant success on every level' Cosmopolitan Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time. '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 Standardshow more

Rating details

58,468 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 35% (20,511)
4 33% (19,316)
3 20% (11,902)
2 8% (4,463)
1 4% (2,276)

Our customer reviews

Possession: A Romance is the second stand-alone novel by British author Antonia S. Byatt, and winner of the 1990 Booker Prize. Roland Michell is a literary scholar whose special interest is 19th century poet, Randolph Henry Ash. When he happens upon drafts of letters written by Ash to an unnamed woman, his investigations lead him to another 19th century poet, Christabel LaMotte, and the expert on that poet's works, Professor Maud Bailey. Using a fascinating combination of folk tales, myths, sagas, memoirs, journals, letters, fairy tales, biographies and many poems, Byatt tells the stories of the romance of Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte, and, eventually, Roland Michell and Maud Bailey. As she slowly builds up this romance, Byatt also comments on faith and religion, the dissection of literary works, lesbianism and feminism, writing, reading and the ownership of literary treasures. Parallels abound between the two romances, although the action doesn't really hot up until the final 80 pages, with an exciting graveyard climax and a lump-in-the-throat epilogue. While there is an abundance of verbose old letters, virtually impenetrable text about poets' works and long tracts of 19th century poetry, these do give the work authenticity and some readers may enjoy these even if others find them tedious. Certainly, Byatt manages to craft characters whose fate the reader cares about, be they 19th century poets or 20th century scholars. Worth persisting with.show more
by Marianne Vincent
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