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Possession: A Romance

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There were parts where the rhythm of it was enough, and parts where I read and re-read a page again and again until I felt I had understood it on many levels. A successful scholar specialized in the underrated poetess Christabel LeMotte flushes with emotion as she anxiously leafs through yellowish pages, wrapped by the familiar odor of mildew, wax and ash. As they uncover their letters, journals and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire - from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany - what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas. Roland secretly takes the letters to further investigate who they were addressed to, something he could get into trouble for as a professional academic.

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. So I'm going to cook more creatively and read more fantasy, because I keep forgetting I like those things. A fun ride that wavers between the competitive/collaborative work of two literary contemporary scholars in England and their subjects, fictive Victorian poets who had a secret love affair. Unusually blond and displaying a cool and poised detachment, she covets loneliness guided by fear of being possessed.He thought he knew Ash fairly well, as well as anyone might know a man whose life seemed to be all in his mind, who lived a quiet and exemplary married life for forty years, whose correspondence was voluminous indeed, but guarded, courteous and not of the most lively. That after passion is spent, heartache subdued and disappointments diluted in the sea of memories, that long after the stillborn happiness has burnt out in the arson of irreconcilable pasts, dead words will be rekindled from the ashes with every new reading, Phoenix-like.

You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. The character was an American collector who had to possess any of the Victorian poet's memorabilia and he was throughout the novel painted as a two dimensional `evil rich American'. All the interested parties converge in an archetypal Sussex churchyard on an archetypal dark and stormy night. So if I construct a fictive eyewitness account- a credible plausible account- am I lending life to truth with my fiction- or verisimilitude to a colossal Lie with my feverish imagination? I never cried at this book, exactly, but I frequently wept the way a lemon meringue pie weeps when you leave it out and come back to find dots of moisture on the surface.Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. They have a chance encounter with the owner of Seal Court, LaMotte's former home, and manage to procure an invitation to visit. But that is not the only song I hear, for raising above the melody, I distinclty discern Byatt’s contralto singing the only truth that not even rigorous scholarship can claim to possess.

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.

Four stars rather than five as in places I found this a bit cold: I was intellectually engaged throughout, not always emotionally so. As ''Possession'' progresses, it seems less and less like the usual satire about academia and more like something by Jorge Luis Borges. There, Roland and Maud discover a large bundle of letters sent between Ash and LaMotte that detail their developing love. But it alternates between being too self-consciously clever (all those unique writing styles, with the historical poems hiding clues to secrets of the past as well as triggering ripples in the modern story) and too predictable plotwise, propped up by stereotyped characters and clichéd situations. In it, LaMotte explains that she had given birth to a daughter who had lived happily without knowing her parentage.

I am convinced that you must undertake that grand Fairy Topic--you will make something highly strange and original of it. And finally there is a lot to laugh about the (charming and pathetic) passion of literary scientists for their object of study and the unorthodox methods they use to outdo each other.

This is the sort of read that cleans out all the nonsense from my brain and leaves me with what is essentially important again.

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