Possession by A. S. Byatt, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Possession

Possession

4.4 43
by A. S. Byatt
     
 

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Winner of England's Booker Prize and a literary sensation Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and a triumphant love story. As a pair of young scholars research the lives of two Victorian poets, they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire — from

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Possession 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie first and was so enthralled decided to read the book. I rate both highly. One of few romance novels I've read and truly enjoyed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Possession is an enchanting work by one of England's best contemporary authors. Having studied the works of A.S. Byatt for my undergraduate thesis, this remains my favorite of her works. I love the way Byatt intertwines past and present, and her stories/poems within the main plot are convincing enough to have us believe they were really written by 19th-century authors! While I must admit that her 20th-century characters are given short-shrift in Possession, the love story between Ash and Christabel is truly engaging. It is a novel that can be appreciated at face value or one that can be pored over to uncover the deeper metaphors and meanings the 'stories-within-the-story' possess. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good love story, or who likes reading literature about literature!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thou hast begun a quest for meaning in what pen to paper has brought. So fine a novel be, that one can only hope for more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book takes my breath away. If you love the written word and the English language, with all its capacity and limitations in the full expression of thought, you cannot NOT read this book. You, too, will feel like this book was written FOR YOU. It is a personal gift from the author to all English majors all over the world. If all you're looking for is a plot and character development, the beauties of this book might be lost on you. It has so many more layers. This book professes to be "a novel" but is poetry and short story and critical essay and epistolary novel and diary... It is the fullest achievement of creative endeavor I have ever seen. A. S. Byatt not only gets the telling of a story right, she manufactures an entire reality in the academia of not one but TWO poets who never existed! She not only writes their material but the perceptions and criticisms and literary theory that arise from the fictional generations that afterwards read them. It is truly astounding. Not having pursued a career in academia, I can only imagine how much this book has to say about the world of academics, the lengths to which that world drives its members to go to, let alone what it says about relationships, character development, plot. What I found most surprising about this text was not the story it tells, however richly and magnificently executed, but the sheer force of creative endeavor behind it. It is a lesson in every theory of literature by example. It is the ultimate practice of literary study. It is the very reason that we write...because we can. A. S. Byatt CAN.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
I did ultimately love this book, but it took me over half its length to warm up to it. I enjoy literate love stories, the mixing of genres, literary allusions and pastiches, and this book provides all of the above. This is a literary mystery as well as a contemporary and a historical romance: two contemporary literary scholars, Roland Michell and Maud Baily, fall for each other as they uncover the romance between the two Victorian poets they study, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. I think part of my problem was that Byatt did too well capturing the era's style in her creations of letters and poems by her fictional poets, and I'm no fan of Victorian literature. Much of the poetry, some lengthy, bored me, then I hit a wall about a third of the way through when I reached the chapter of about fifty pages of their correspondence in the style of the era. It was just too tedious reading these characters going into raptures over each other's poetry, and after reading a few letters, I skipped the rest of that chapter, and then started skipping the poems that began the chapters. The book is also studded with diary entires, portions of Mortimer Cropper's biography of Ash, and articles of literary criticism. It's all technically impressive, but for me the poems and letters dragged down the narrative. And Byatt can count one misfire in her otherwise laudatory ability at capturing voices--Cropper is not a convincing American. Much of the first 300 pages of the book were a grind, but then after that it became for me more and more of a page-turner, and I stayed up all night to read those last hundred pages. I liked how the tales of past and present intertwined, and I grew to love the characters, the way the many meanings of possession figure in the plot in thought-provoking ways, the lovely prose, and ultimately I got caught up in the interplay of ideas and how they fit into the romances. So if you find yourself wanting to give up (and it crossed my mind at one point), all I can say is I think the book's difficulties are worth pushing through, and if you need to skip that epistolary section or the poems to keep going, I don't think it hurts the narrative to do so--and eventually you may want to go back to those parts. I found the concluding pages moving and the post-script was a lovely grace note. I could see coming back to this book for rereads someday and finding more each time. Despite finding aspects and parts of this novel amazing, I can't see giving a full five stars to a book where I slogged through or skipped so much--but what I loved here, I loved. So four it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure that I would have immediately picked this book up on my own if someone hadn't pointed it out to me. Although having to read it for a class doesn't necessarily count as someone pointing it out. I think it's more like, 'you have to.' Aside from that the book is... complicated. Cliche, I know but it's true. This book takes a lot of dedication from the reader and if you're a first timer with the writing style of A.S. Byatt then you're going to have a time of it. I, in particular, am very topsy-turvy when it comes to books. Some times I enjoy slow moving books and other days, when I had to read Possession, I couldn't stand it. As much as the book annoyed me I do honestly see its appeal and after a while it grows on you. For me it was the relationship between Maude and Roland. The entire book I was frustrated with them, then I loved them. Then I hated them. Then I loved them. Then I wanted to shoot them both dead. Then I.... you understand. What's most endearing about Maude and Roland is that after a while you want them to stay in their little perfect bubble and any intrusions 'such as the likes of Leonora or Ferguson' you can't stand it. Is this review ambiguous enough for you? I can neither say that I demand everyone read it nor can I say it's not worth the effort. It's very much a love hate relationship. I'm not particularly moved that I read the book but I'm not bitter about the time I spent reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Normally I do not have time to read anything but textbooks but once I started reading Possession I could not stop until I finished it. It read so smoothly that my anticipation for what would arrive next continued to build through out. I recomemd this book to everyone. I have to say that its uniqueness compared to many novels I have recently read makes it a refreshing read and a favorite of mine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one my favorite books that I have ever read. I enjoyed the characters and how she entwines the past with the future. It has been a little while since I read the book, but it is still fresh in my mind. I am looking forward to reading it again and for many years down the road. I believe this is a classic in its time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of those novels for which the reviews are much better than the book. Still, the book does have a good story line, probably helped along for readers who have seen the movie. The movie handles the mystery much better and shows rather than tells the romance of the 19th century poets. The character of Maud is less abrasive in the book, though Roland Mitchell is clinically depressed and English in the book, not the defiant Californian of the movie. This novel reminded me of Thomas Wolfe not only in that it combines poetry and prose but in that it seeks to include absolutely everything that happened. The poetry is better in Wolfe; the prose better in Byatt. If you like the parallel story of two romances, one present and one past, you'll also like Tears in the Rain (although the movie is much better than the book) and the novel Always, though Always has more action and more suspense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is one for anyone who has a genuine love for reading good solid novels with engaging plots, poetry and the lives of poets, and pure unadulterated 'will they or won't they?' romances. byatt has conceived a most beautiful book that links the love of literature with real-life romance. roland miller and maud bailey are two academics who come across a secret relationship between a couple of 19th century poets--one a famously married masogynist and the other a reclusive lesbian. byatt indulges the readers' love of poetry by including poems and letters of the two poets and injects them into the present-day story of roland and moud's love story/investigation. pick this up if you love to read and love to love. it satisfies both the reader's intellectual curiosities and his/her emotional investment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is so much in this book. I have read it over and over, and notice more each time. The way that A S Byatt treats her characters and recognises even the smallest details about life and relationships is unparallelled. An intellectual and emotional feast. It just gets better and better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is book to be savoured by English majors, particularly those of us who have read extentively in the poetry of Tennyson, Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Dickinson. It helped to be familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite artists. This describes me, so I felt the book was written for me. It also takes place in the present. There is an attempt to write some of the dialog in 1985 United States jargon, which is jarring but clever. I prefer Byatt to her sister Margaret Drabble, who is also an outstanding British novelist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
AS Byatt's creativity in writing this book was outstanding. She managed to break all the rules of genre in literature and put all forms into one novel with a compelling story line, and a wonderful romance. The 'historical' figures of Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash that she created seemed so real that I had to check my facts to reassure myself that they were indeed fictional. It is a deep and challenging read, but absolutely rewarding when finished. A note to anyone who reads this novel: PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE POETRY AND USE OF COLOR! It may often seem only relevant in painting pictures, but this novel is working on several levels that are tied together as harmoniously as a symphony.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was entranced by this book. Anyone who loves to get lost in the wonderful world of great literature should read this book. It will move you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A.S. Byatt's 'Possession' is one of the most satisfying books I have read in years. It is challenging in the way of a Faulkner novel: she demands the reader's full participation. I enjoyed Byatt's intelligence and wit and came away with a feeling of real intimacy toward her, as if we had shared many long and engaging conversations.What makes the book so possessing is its complexity. It is really a tribute to the whole history of English literature. I can't wait to read another of her works!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The most beautifully written book I have ever read. Fascinating story and magical poems, like pictures painted by words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this.  The number of times I've liked a movie better than a book can be counted on one hand.   Sadly this is one of those times.  Between the poetry, the secondary characters and the other modern primary story I never settled into the novel.  I was almost halfway through the book before a  serious "dialogue" happened between Christobel and Ash.   There was just too much going on here for me.   Quite disappointed.
Lise_Horton More than 1 year ago
Written in 1990, this book is my all time favorite novel. I have read it numerous times and am awed anew with each reading. A sterling literary novel, and literary mystery, and romance (in the classic sense) it is rich writing, glorious words, fantastical poetry and a wonderful trip through history and into the stuffy rooms of academia and the lives of academics. I won't even mention the movie because, while pretty, it bore none of the heft of this novel by A. S. Byatt. When scholar Roland Mitchell discovers, in the course of his dutiful, boring, dusty duty, in his lackluster job - he always gets passed over for better positions by flashier gents - a mention in the records of a connection between the subject of his study, Randolph Henry Ash, and a woman he hasn't heard of - Christabel LaMotte - he's sent to the expert on the female poet. That expert is the chilly Dr. Maud Bailey, a LaMotte scholar and feminist who, coincidentally, had enjoyed (or not) a romantic tangle with the fellow who'd won the more august spot Roland coveted at his own University. She doesn't credit the notion that the two knew one another - or more, but becomes intrigued and the two set off on a physical, and cerebral investigation to uncover the truth about the two Victorian poets. With Byatt's poetry (purporting to be the poetry of the 2 Victorians), with letters from them, jaunts through the country and the past into the lives of the Victorians, and the lives of their descendants, the two fall in love not just with the poets, but with one another. Like calls to like and the spirit of the two academics enhances that bond. But there are others who want the evidence, who want the glory, or who want to hide it, and they dog the intrepid pair hither and yon. As Roland's life alters, so does Maud's as secrets of her heritage unfold like the delicate petals of a rose unfurling in the sun. Byatt's writing is pure bliss to read. I read, and re-read, with a sigh of pleasure and cannot recommend a book more highly. If exquisite prose makes you happy? You will be ecstatic! Do yourself the favor and read this book. And then read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just saw the movie and was captivated by it and the story. I am buying the book for my daughter as a birthday gift.
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IRISHDANCER0 More than 1 year ago
Vintage romance and beautifully written of poems of medieval and nineteenth-century times a must add to one's library.