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Possession: A Romance

Possession: A Romance

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Or is this perhaps a product of the over-excited brain of a middle-aged and somewhat disparaged poet, when he finds that his ignored, his arcane, his deviously perspicuous meanings, which he thought not meanings, since no one appeared able to understand them, had after all one clear-eyed and amused reader and judge? They have a chance encounter with the owner of Seal Court, LaMotte's former home, and manage to procure an invitation to visit. Byatt's novel follows two academics as they investigate a couple that existed approximately a hundred years previous. I assume her own writing style was trying to mimic the poets' own writing styles, but I thought it was too wordy.

I know you go out in company very little, and was the more fortunate that dear Crabb managed to entice you to his breakfast table. It divided her into cold, brightly coloured fires… The green silk of her scarf glittered with turreted purple ridges.They all assume that the lock of hair in Ash's grave belongs to LaMotte and that he never learnt the truth about his daughter.

I say “at home” what extraordinary folly- when you take pleasure in making me feel most unhemlich , as the Germans have it, least of all at home, but always on edge… But poets don’t want homes- do they? Some of this, sure, is perhaps about developing better taste and letting go of adolescent attachments. S. Byatt is a gifted observer, able to discern the exact but minor details that bring whole worlds into being.

They feel the need to keep their discoveries private as many other academics are chasing similar leads. An interesting and at least as important theme is that on the female condition and feminism, now and then. But for now, books like Possession, books that devour me and spit me out again remade… this is what keeps me in equilibrium, and keeps the self that I very much want to keep around from disappearing. Oh, it was beautiful, though, a book of such tangible substance that sometimes, when I was reading it while standing, I would feel as if the book were holding me up instead of the other way around.

I've also wondered for some time if my anti-AS prejudice was a bit daft and thought I should give her another – fairer – reading. She gradually becomes more open as she grows closer to Roland, who she eventually falls in love with. A remarkable feat of storytelling through prose and poetry that compares with nothing I have ever read before. It was 2* for me but I gave it 3* since I skipped the poetry and some of the letters so my understanding of the novel was impaired. Following a trail of clues from letters and journals, they collaborate to uncover the truth about Ash and LaMotte's relationship, before it is discovered by rival colleagues.

Famous romances include Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (1854). Did you not find it as strange as I did, that we should so immediately understand each other so well?

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