Possession: A Romance

by A.s. Byatt

Random House UK | September 5, 2011 | Trade Paperback

Possession: A Romance is rated 4.4167 out of 5 by 12.
A special celebratory edition to mark the 21st birthday of Vintage books.

Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "a gifted observer, able to discern the exact details that bring whole worlds into being" and "a storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for a thousand and one nights," A. S. Byatt writes some of the most engaging and skillful novels of our time. Time magazine calls her "a novelist of dazzling inventiveness."
        
Possession, for which Byatt won England''s prestigious Booker Prize, was praised by critics on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first published in 1990. "On academic rivalry and obsession, Byatt is delicious. On the nature of possession--the lover by the beloved, the biographer by his subject--she is profound," said The Sunday Times (London). The New Yorker dubbed it "more fun to read than The Name of the Rose . . . Its prankish verve [and] monstrous richness of detail [make for] a one-woman variety show of literary styles and types." The novel traces a pair of young academics--Roland Michell and Maud Bailey--as they uncover a clandestine love affair between two long-dead Victorian poets. Interwoven in a mesmerizing pastiche are love letters and fairytales, extracts from biographies and scholarly accounts, creating a sensuous and utterly delightful novel of ideas and passions.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 7.75 × 5 × 1.25 in

Published: September 5, 2011

Publisher: Random House UK

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0099563134

ISBN - 13: 9780099563136

Found in: Romance

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gorgeous Beautiful prose this book takes patience. The varying forms of narrative can get frustrating but it is well worth the effort.
Date published: 2009-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't Watch the Movie ***SPOILER ALERT*** This novel combines prose, poetry, journals and correspondence to tell the stories of a Victorian love affair and a present - day one. The story begins with the discovery of a love note written by Randolph Ash to Christabel LaMotte - both Victorian poets by Roland a literary scholar. He steals them from the London library and begins searching for the recipient which leads him to Maud a scholar specializing in LaMotte's work. She is also a descendant of LaMotte's sister. They find the entire correspondence in the home of LaMotte's family confirming the letter exchange. Roland hypothesizes that the two poets may have spent a month together near Yorkshire. LaMotte was living with her Lesbian partner and Ash was married at the time. Through further clandestine means they discover that LaMotte traveled to Brittany and gave birth to a child there. At this point their quest is discovered and other scholars take up the chase of Ash/LaMotte and Roland/Maud. Slowly through immersing themselves in their search because the other fulfills the limited involvement they both need in a lover. With help from the other scholars they determine that the child did survive and was raised as the daughter of LaMotte's sister - Maud therefore is a direct descendent of Ash and LaMotte, she really is the princess. The real strength of this novel is the attention that it requires to follow it and the immediate need I felt to reread it to see the hidden meaning in the verses early in the novel. An entire universe as seen through one novelist writing as two poets. The energy in the correspondence is also hard to imagine. We have so much freedom to express ourselves but we seldom use it.
Date published: 2008-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good multi-layered read This satisfying book gets better with each read. There are so many layers upon layers, and many different audible voices in the writing, it's a worthwhile challenge to read.
Date published: 2006-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my all time favourites This is the novel that can make you weep for the demonstration of writing skills alone. It's a contemporary literary mystery searching out the past. It's a romance in two eras, a comic depiction of academia and a wonderful symbiosis of ideas and science with real life. And to top it all, the form is a collection of victorian poetry, epic folk tales, letters and a story entwining all of it. Amazing. I'll be rereading this for as long as I can see to read.
Date published: 2006-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whirlwind Adventure Through Time I was introduced to this novel through my English honours course (it was the assigned reading). It was definately the highlight of the class! Byatt weaves an intriguing mystery which parallels modern-day romance with an affair of the past. Ingeniously, she creates letters, poems, journals and even book excerpts authored by the cast of characters in the novel, as clues to unravelling the lives of two literary figures of the past. She does this in an entirely convincing Victorian fashion, I even found myself wondering whether Asher, one of the central characters, actually existed! This book is easy to read, though lengthy. There is no unneccessary descriptive rambling and the only thing which might bog down some less enthusiastic readers are poems strewn throughout the story. Read this book through -- the end is so sastisfying!
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read Novel!!! This novel brings the story to life! It is a brilliant combination of mystery, romance and intrigue! Written as if you are in the characters mind! I could not put this book down. A definite MUST read!
Date published: 2003-11-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Quickly dispossesed this book I know this book won the Booker and I know it gets rave reviews from just about everyone but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. I found this read to be tedious and character development basically non-existant. I felt these people were cold. Intriguing premise yes, for sure, but I couldn't help thinking that the author was stringing words together without regard to maintaining a 'story'.
Date published: 2002-10-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not my most prized 'Possession' This novel was a bit long on poetry and short on story. The premise is intriguing but surviving the first couple of hundred pages is a bit of a chore. The middle few hundred pages were quick paced and interesting, but the ending left me entirely unsatisfied. Perhaps Hollywood will have a positive influence on adapting this novel for the big screen.
Date published: 2002-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Possession A. S. Byatt is the ultimate story-teller. Possession holds the reader captive from its intriguing beginning, through its complete circle of history and relationships. She gives us characters who are full and complicated and makes us believe that the academic world can be as breath-taking as a walk on the moon. We are with her scholars every painstaking step; we are frustrated by their frustrations and elated by their successes. Byatt has taken the impossible and made it possible by combining the historic with the contemporary. Possession is an excellent entry to Byatt's body of work.
Date published: 2001-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insight into human nature One of the best books I've read in the last few years is A.S Byatt's "Possession". It won the 1990 Booker Prize although I didn't read it until recently. The theme of the novel is human possession, i.e. the human need/compulsion/desire/expectation to possess those with whom we have intimate relationships. I don't know, nor does the author suggest, how much of that need/compulsion/desire/expectation is innate and how much is the result of societal norms. But the important thing is that it exists and that we need to be conscious of it. For myself I know that this possessory aspect is something I hate in relationsips. I've always disliked having somebody who felt they had rights in me. Alas I think that it is difficult to avoid slipping into that attitude with regard to others. I know I am capable of wanting to possess or control others. I think it is possible to have relationships that don't involve possession or control, but one needs to be conscious of the problem and to actively resist in order to do so. I expect the rewards are worth the effort. A.S. Byatt's book deals with this theme brilliantly, and the story is entertaining. It's long, but both enlightening and a good read, so like intimate relationships, worth the effort.
Date published: 2000-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Possession One of my favorite books. My daughter gave me this book and started my admiration of A. S. Byatt. Her writing style is descriptive, well-paced and exciting. This book carries a wonderful mystery throughout, creating anticipation to the end. Love of history is a plus, but not a prerequisite for enjoying this wonderful book.
Date published: 2000-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An absorbing read An excellent book but a very deatiled read. The story of a young man researching the life and works of a Victorian poet stumbles across clues to an unknown love affair in his life. He follows these clues to unravel the whole story and get to the heart of the mystery confusing his own life in the process. The clues are presented to the reader as well as to the researcher in the form of letters between the poet and his mistress, poems he wrote and the ongoing mystical tale written by his mistress. These 'documents' make the book a very intense and detailed read with clues for readers to discover for themselves although the story's plot ultimatly reveals the truth of the mystery. A truly fascinating read and beautifully written.
Date published: 1999-08-08

– More About This Product –

Possession: A Romance

by A.s. Byatt

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 7.75 × 5 × 1.25 in

Published: September 5, 2011

Publisher: Random House UK

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0099563134

ISBN - 13: 9780099563136

Read from the Book

Chapter One These things are there. The garden and the treeThe serpent at its root, the fruit of goldThe woman in the shadow of the boughsThe running water and the grassy space.They are and were there. At the old world''s rim,In the Hesperidean grove, the fruitGlowed golden on eternal boughs, and thereThe dragon Ladon crisped his jewelled crestScraped a gold claw and sharped a silver toothAnd dozed and waited through eternityUntil the tricksy hero HeraklesCame to his dispossession and the theft.--Randolph Henry Ash, from The Garden of Proserpina, 1861The book was thick and black and covered with dust. Its boards were bowed and creaking; it had been maltreated in its own time. Its spine was missing, or rather protruded from amongst the leaves like a bulky marker. It was bandaged about and about with dirty white tape, tied in a neat bow. The librarian handed it to Roland Michell, who was sitting waiting for it in the Reading Room of the London Library. It had been exhumed from Locked Safe no. 5 where it usually stood between Pranks of Priapus and The Grecian Way of Love. It was ten in the morning, one day in September 1986. Roland had the small single table he liked best, behind a square pillar, with the clock over the fireplace nevertheless in full view. To his right was a high sunny window, through which you could see the high green leaves of St. James''s Square.The London Library was Roland''s favourite place. It was shabby but civilised, alive with history but inhabited als
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From the Publisher

A special celebratory edition to mark the 21st birthday of Vintage books.

Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "a gifted observer, able to discern the exact details that bring whole worlds into being" and "a storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for a thousand and one nights," A. S. Byatt writes some of the most engaging and skillful novels of our time. Time magazine calls her "a novelist of dazzling inventiveness."
        
Possession, for which Byatt won England''s prestigious Booker Prize, was praised by critics on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first published in 1990. "On academic rivalry and obsession, Byatt is delicious. On the nature of possession--the lover by the beloved, the biographer by his subject--she is profound," said The Sunday Times (London). The New Yorker dubbed it "more fun to read than The Name of the Rose . . . Its prankish verve [and] monstrous richness of detail [make for] a one-woman variety show of literary styles and types." The novel traces a pair of young academics--Roland Michell and Maud Bailey--as they uncover a clandestine love affair between two long-dead Victorian poets. Interwoven in a mesmerizing pastiche are love letters and fairytales, extracts from biographies and scholarly accounts, creating a sensuous and utterly delightful novel of ideas and passions.

About the Author

A. S. Byatt is famed for her short fiction, collected in Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, and The Djinn in the Nightingale''s Eye. Her full-length novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession and the trilogy sequence The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower.

Editorial Reviews

"Byatt is the most formidably equipped of contemporary novelists. . . . The great merit of [her] writing . . . is that it continually engages the reader''s mind."---The Daily Telegraph

"This cerebral extravaganza of a story zigzags with unembarrassed zest across an imaginative terrain bristling with symbolism and symmetries, shimmering with myth and legend, and haunted everywhere by presences of the past. . . . Possession is eloquent about the intense pleasures of reading. And, with sumptuous artistry, it provides a feast of them."---The Sunday Times (London)
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