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Possession: A Romance
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Possession: A Romance

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  58,082 Ratings  ·  3,448 Reviews
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 spiritualist sénces t ...more
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Published August 6th 2002 by HarperAudio (first published 1990)
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Marti I think we always underestimate and have such low expectations for teens. These said teens would be the people watching some pretty torrid movies, and…moreI think we always underestimate and have such low expectations for teens. These said teens would be the people watching some pretty torrid movies, and who live in the world where gender is now subdivided into so many categories I have to keep looking them up. What's wrong with reading something which expects .... and can teach..... emotional maturity? I learned a lot about appropriate and inappropriate emotional responses from reading fiction as a preteen and teen. Don't be afraid of what these young gals will come up with. I say, go for it. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kelly
Jun 04, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people searching for beauty, academics
That was.. not what I was expecting this time.

I have to admit, I did not approach this book this time around with what I would consider pure motives. I wasn’t in it to find things I had never found before, to revisit a personal classic to explore ideas that I had left behind for the time when I was ready to connect with them in the way that they deserved. I wasn’t even in it to re-approach situations and characters with a new perspective of age and experience.

No, I needed something from this boo
...more
Paul Bryant
Oct 12, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my enemies

A honking great piece of literary self gratification, a novel about writers (all novels about writers should be given a concrete overcoat), a grand excuse for A S Byatt to dazzle us with some fancy ventriloquism, and yes you can feel the throb of the author's perfervid intelligence like a lawnmower hacking away at the tough grass at the edge of the lawn but after all of that you have to come clean and say that Possession isn't worth the thinnest novelette written by Raymond Chandler or the most
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Warwick
OK I have to say something. People keep writing reviews of this book and talking about how it was great except for all the boring poems which they skipped through.

READ THE POETRY, PEOPLE! What's the matter with everyone?? They're actually rather good, they are full of plot clues, and, duh, they're a key part of the novel you're reading. I mean what is going on here? Do people really hate poetry so much that they're skipping a few pages of it in the middle of a story? If you try that shit with Ha
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Marjorie Hakala
Apr 27, 2008 Marjorie Hakala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A while ago I said to myself, "I'm going to pay more attention to doing things that make me happy. So I'm going to cook more creatively and read more fantasy, because I keep forgetting I like those things."

Then I started reading Possession. The happiness project got put on the back burner until I was ready to emerge from the Victorian melancholia, which placed demands on my time too great to allow for preparing meals. I never cried at this book, exactly, but I frequently wept the way a lemon mer
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Dolors
Apr 03, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Possessors, possessed and skeptics
Stolen snapshots that defy the laws of space and time:

Past.
A poet observes a mystical creature, half woman half mermaid, scouting cliffs and creeks, bathing in unruly seas and still ponds, getting drenched in the cascade of his flowing words. The ache of losing God is not so acute when intellect is met with incandescent creativity. Or with unrestrained love. His gentle curiosity breathes life into inert things, making them shine with an inner glow of their own, because he doesn’t aspire to posse
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Duane
Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1990.

Giving this book 5 stars was not ever in doubt for me. This is one of the most remarkable books I've ever read. I'm a romantic, I admit. I love art and art history. I love good historical fiction. But all that combined still does not make a good book. A.S. Byatt pulls all this together with the most important aspect of any book, great writing. But she adds something else also, something that's hard to put your finger on, a uniqueness, an edge, if you will,
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Aug 03, 2008 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grad students &/or those seeking confirmation that academia is a poor career choice
Too much work for too little reward.

I read somewhere that if you pick up a book, and you're not enjoying it by either: a) your age (if you are under 50); or b) 100 minus your age (if you are over 50), you should abandon it and move on. There is too much to read and life is too short to be spent reading bad books.

I think this applies particularly to books in that grey zone, where you can tell the writer is winding up to something, and the style and story has enough ooomph in it to keep you poweri
...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I just finished reading A.S. Byatt’s novel, Possession, again for about the fourth time. It has been several years since I last read it, and I have to say that I saw it in a completely new light. It is a literary masterpiece that is exquisitely plotted and written.

This time around I very carefully studied the epigraphs leading off most of the chapters and all of the beautiful poetry included in the text. I don’t know that I gave much more than a cursory glance to the poetry during previous read
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Sarah
"With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?" -Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Watterson)


Indeed, Calvin. You speak the truth. And thanks to slogging through a sample portion of that intimidating & impenetrable fog known as Possession, I've learned an important lesson. Lend me your ears, gentle reader -- I'm about to whisper another truth that's been missing from your day-to-day literary drudgery.

A.S. Byatt is smart.



Oh, yes. A.S. Byatt i
...more
Alison
Sep 01, 2007 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literature nerds, romantics, people who have some spare time
Shelves: alltime100novel
O.K., I finally finished Possession! Here goes.

Possession is a highly celebrated novel by A.S. Byatt that contains two story threads. The first story could be categorized as historical fiction. We learn about the relationship of fictional poets Christabel LaMotte and R.H. Ashe through old journal entries, letters, and their "poetry" (the poems were actually created by Byatt, since the two authors never actually existed). Ashe was married, and LaMotte was in a relationship with a woman. But we co
...more
Mona
Feb 02, 2015 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Artfully Told Tale of Academics, Victorian Poets and Romance



I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.

Many Goodreaders really like this metafictional novel, which contains a story (and poetry) within a story.

There is much to admire here.

The author skillfully interweaves two time periods. One was 1987 (close to the time the novel was written), the other nineteenth century Victorian England.

She not only invents two poets, but writes a lot of their poetry. The skill and brilliance involv
...more
Cindy Newton
There have been so many reviews written about this book, by so many people much more articulate than I am, that I really don't feel I have anything new and/or brilliant to add. I will, therefore, just record my thoughts about it.

I thought it was lovely. The language flows beautifully, both in the prose and the poetry sections. The story itself is intriguing, the flowering illicit romance between the poet and his poetess, and the more muted one between the scholars obsessed by them. Byatt does a
...more
Chris
Oct 09, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beauty in this book, and it seems to lie in the details. How all the characters still in character, the resolution to both romances at the end, all the touches about criticism - all these ring true.

Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. Leonora, it seems to me, is so much larger than lif
...more
Kim
Oct 16, 2007 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disheartening
I picked up this book because I had seen it in a recommended reading site and then a friend said that it was really good. But...
Yes, there's a but... it took me 3 tries to get past page 10. I should have known then... but (again with the 'but') I persevered... thinking that I would eventually get into it, that I would get to the meat of it. By, page 300 I felt like I was trapped. I had already invested this much time into it and felt, at that point, that I had to finish it. I'm not saying tha
...more
Nelson Zagalo
Belíssimo “tour de force” literário. “Possessão” é um romance com múltiplas camadas de significação e enquanto tal merece uma análise cuidada por camada. Do meu interesse em literatura, e do que me é mais facilmente acessível, defino três que me surgem de modo evidente — romance mistério, virtuosismo, e sátira académica — mas é claro que um trabalho mais profundo de análise e interpretação literária encontrará outras camadas de relevo. Daqui percebe-se que não estamos perante um simples romance, ...more
João Carlos

Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow) e Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) no filme realizado por Neil LaBute

Um thriller literário - 5*
Várias histórias de amor - 5*

Em Setembro de 1986 Roland Mitchell, de vinte e nove anos, licenciado pelo Prince Albert College de Londres (1978) e doutorado em letras pela mesma universidade (1985), é um assistente de investigação a tempo parcial, que está à espera na sala de leitura da Biblioteca de Londres para examinar um livro que pertencera ao famoso poeta vitoriano Rand
...more
Manny
Nov 26, 2008 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Brilliant literary puzzle-book, including a well-realised fictitious author loosely based on Tennyson... one of the best attempts of this kind since Pale Fire. Some people think the book is too clever by half, but what do you expect? Just as constructive to criticise Powell for including too many characters who are upper-class twits, or Proust for not making his sentences short and punchy...
Mosca
Feb 20, 2014 Mosca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mosca by: Kris Rabberman and Aubrey
----------------------------------------

It is a special treat to discover a book that ends so intelligently, so intuitively, and so emotionally beautifully---all at the same time.

This book is sophisticated in its construction and its literary detail. It requires a good deal of attention and focus on the part of the reader during its first half. And the details of its parts, the virtuosity of its styles, and the puzzles that it is assembles kept me fascinated. The writing is so good. And as the s
...more
Roya
Sep 17, 2016 Roya added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roya by: Jaidee
DNF at page 229.

I tried listening to the audiobook for this in July, but to no avail as my concentration skills are poor. Still, the story seemed quite interesting so I decided to get the book. I was so excited that I ordered it twice by mistake! I wish I'd loved this book, but the writing is far too lacy for me. I've noticed that beautiful writing tends to be the author compensating for a lack of plot. I wish there had been less poetry and Victorian dialogue. Either I'm becoming more stupid and
...more
Fabian
Aug 03, 2012 Fabian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically, "Possession" is a (n outstandingly old-fashioned) poet's "showcase." I firmly believe that poetry books are not worthy of sharing the same shelf space as works of fiction-- this is a merger of two arts, surely. The plot and the prose is only a pretext for getting all these snippets of poetry in a book! Byatt's possession of her characters is the novelty here: she has done something pretty outstanding, mainly giving both fictional historical poets true, clear voices. The poetry shines ...more
Riku Sayuj
Jun 27, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-winners

Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you?
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems, and new!

But you were living before that,
And you are living after,
And the memory I started at—
My starting moves your laughter!

I crossed a moor, with a name of its own
And a certain use in the world no doubt,
Yet a hand’s-breadth of it shines alone
’Mid the blank miles round about:

For there I picked up on the heather
And there I put inside my breast
A moulted feat
...more
Vimal Thiagarajan
Aug 07, 2016 Vimal Thiagarajan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adorations, booker
The Poems are not for the young lady, the young lady is for the Poems

5 flabbergasted stars - to this meticulously well-written masterpiece from AS Byatt. It is a novel that is so nuanced to the point of disbelief. There is a mountain of stuff in there to like - exquisitely written letters of every kind, crafty and intelligent poetry, an epic intellectual romance, characters that are so well developed that you'd want a hundred book series out of them, amusing fairy tales, both veneration and shar
...more
Adina

This was mainly my fault. What went through my mind when I decided to read a book about a love story between two poets when I do not like poetry? Didn’t it cross my mind that there was going to be poetry in this novel? The answer is, not really. I read in the synopsis that there were going to be letters and a literary investigation. It sounded intriguing and it was a Booker winner, among which I found a few gems.

After skipping quite a bit I have the following observations:
1. WARNING! Do not at
...more
Sherien
Oct 02, 2009 Sherien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ayu
Shelves: 20th-century
"I cannot bear not to know the end of a tale. I will read the most trivial things – once commenced – only out of a feverish greed to be able to swallow the ending – sweet or sour – and to be done with what I need never have embarked on. Are you in my case? Or are you a more discriminating reader? Do you lay aside the unprofitable?"



I have never encountered a novel such magnificent and beautifully written as this. A.S. Byatt undeniably has an outstanding ability in literature and it makes it clea
...more
Sara Steger
I am a Romantic, in Wordsworth's sense of the word. I love the details of 19th Century life, the language of that time, poetry, a mystery and human tragedy and struggle. Above all, I love a good story. A.S. Byatt has given me all of this and more. She is an intelligent and multi-talented author, and I was delighted to accompany her through the throes of Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte's love story to the last riveting moment.

I have pushed this book to the back of the shelf for years, simply
...more
Perry
Jun 08, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poets Possessed by Passion Puissante pour les Mots et la Romance
{{[complete review soon]}}

"[A]ll great poetry asks us to be possessed by it ." Harold Bloom, The Best Poems of the English Language, 2003.

“I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so.” John Donne

"i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” E.E. Cummings


_____________________________

I just finished this novel the afternoon of 6/22. For book I think merit 5 stars, I put a substantive effort into writing the review, pr
...more
Deea
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
...........................................................

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d
On the cold hill’s side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”


La Belle Dame sans Merci - Keats

Christabel LaMotte is
...more
Marialyce
I almost feel like some kind of traitor to the culture of extremely well written books to only rate this novel a three. However, any book that takes me almost two months to get through and makes me read it in only short spurts is not one I would rate a five book.

Yes, the writing, the theme, the characters are all superb, but the very writing and characters are what bogged down this novel for me. I have never been nor will ever be a fan of poetry in any shape or form. I will even readily admit, I
...more
Tatiana
Oct 20, 2009 Tatiana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No, can't do it. 2 hours into it and not a glimmer of hope. Man Booker Prize winner and was referred to as the best ever romance novel in one of my favorite books, but alas, I am giving up. Might be more suitable for people who love reading books about books and literary research. Or maybe I am just not smart enough... Painfully reminded me of "The Historian" too.
Patrizia O
Gli uomini vanno al martirio ovunque
deserto, cattedrale, Pubblica Piazza.
Lontane dall'ebbrezza dell'Azione
altro è il nostro destino
trascinare lunga una Vita
in una stanza oscura.
Christabel LaMotte

Qual è l’enigma? Io sono il mio stesso enigma. Oh, Signore, non dovete per gentilezza cercare di migliorare o togliermi la mia solitudine. A noi donne insegnano a temerla - ah, la torre spaventosa, ah, il roveto che la circonda - nessun nido accogliente, un torrione piuttosto. Ma ci hanno mentit
...more
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Around the Year i...: Possession, by A.S. Byatt 1 7 Jan 29, 2017 08:15AM  
CdC - Gruppo di l...: Libro #7 - Possessione 8 19 Jan 15, 2017 03:47AM  
Guardian Newspape...: Dec 2016 Possession 13 16 Jan 10, 2017 04:40AM  
Goodreads Italia: GdL Ottobre 2015: Possessione di A.S. Byatt - Commenti e discussione 96 121 Nov 09, 2015 08:13AM  
Why was Ash's marriage never consummated? 3 183 Oct 04, 2014 09:56PM  
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A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize winner Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Ey ...more
More about A.S. Byatt...

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“I cannot let you burn me up, nor can I resist you. No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.” 177 likes
“No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.” 139 likes
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