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Book Reviews of Possession

Author: A. S. Byatt
ISBN-13: 9780679735908
ISBN-10: 0679735909
Publication Date: 10/1/1991
Pages: 576
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 218 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

30 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

shukween avatar reviewed Possession on + 118 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
A lovely, literary historical mystery!

I adored this book. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up and in fact was a little disinterested in the first few chapters....but then it takes off like a rocket. It's the story of two researchers who are each experts on different Victorian poets. One of them finds a draft of an exceedingly passionate love letter in an old manuscript. Given that the poet in whose manuscript it was found is widely believed to have been happily married for 40 years, thus is launched a delicate mystery requiring careful unraveling. As this researcher follows the subtle clues and trail, he meets the other researcher and together they hold enough of the pieces to find the answer. It is so much more than a mystery--it is a feminist statement, it is an intellectual delight, it is a wry statement on human nature--it is a delicate jewel of a novel that I highly recommend.
reviewed Possession on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I loved this book! Byatt is a sophisticated, quirky, humorous, inventive and just downright interesting writer. I am now her avid fan, and find the range of topics she delves into impressive. Her research is impeccable, and her prose is so good that it seems inevitable. Highly recommended for readers who love depth in order to be engaged.
reviewed Possession on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Absolutely extraordinary. One of the best books I've ever read. Intelligent, compelling, unforgettable.
reviewed Possession on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Part literary thriller, part romance. Reminds me somewhat of John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman, which is another of my favorities.
Allypally avatar reviewed Possession on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is such a fabulous book! Graduate student Roland finds a letter to an unknown woman written by famous Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash. Instead of turning it over to his professor, he decides to look into it himself. He identifies the woman as Christabel LaMotte and with the help of a professor who specialises in her writing, they set off on the trail of a literary mystery.

I guess this is really a literary romance - you don't know whether to be more gripped by the Roland/Maud storyline in modern times or the Randolph/Christabel story in Victorian times. It's put together so well, the clues to the denouement are all there, and towards the end it's un-put-downable!

A great book about the power of relationships and the importance of literature - both for those who write it and those who read it. This is one of my all time top 5.
reviewed Possession on + 242 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a very literary book from a British author. It received rave reviews from The New York Times and other notable reviewers. Though it's labeled a "romance" it's much more than that. It's focus is on obsession by modern critics towards a dead poet and the lengths they'll go through for anything written or owned by that poet, especially is it's undiscovered. For those who love poetry and romance this is a great book. However, I only gave it a #7 rating since I'm not a great fan of 19th century poetry, obscure myths and romance. I found it difficult to read since I was pretty bored. It picked up in the middle (there are 555 pages!). I couldn't relate to the characters' obsession with this long dead poet. And there's a lot of poetry in the book, some of the poems are quite long, which I found myself rapidly skimming. But it is a highly literate book, a thinking person's book whose main appeal is to those who relate to the love of poetry and the veneration of poets.
reviewed Possession on + 39 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A literary gem, in which two scholars try to solve a mystery about the poets they both study. Many layers of complexity.
reviewed Possession on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Well written, engrossing, with many levels to it.
reviewed Possession on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great story(ies)! This is one that I find different things each time I read it
reviewed Possession on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was annoyed to realize I'd seen the movie for this book when I was about 30 pages in (movies based on books should make a bigger deal about the books so people can read them before seeing the movie!). BUT, I'm glad I kept reading. This is an extraordinarily literary book, and I'd love to read it again just to look up all the references I missed and follow the different threads more closely. It's also a well-drawn set of stories, about two English lit PhDs in the 1980s who discover letters between two Victorian poets, and it made me wish the poets were real so I could read more of their work than just the few snippets included in the novel.
reviewed Possession on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I could not put this down. A great romance for smart people!
reviewed Possession on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Intruiging. I liked the way it cut between the two couples, and connected them.
reviewed Possession on + 63 more book reviews
This is a great story. It was later made into a movie that Gwyneth Paltrow starred in.
reviewed Possession on + 51 more book reviews
This is a tale of 2 scholars researching the lives of 2 Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire-from spiritualist seance to the fairy haunted far west of Brittany-what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.
reviewed Possession on + 7 more book reviews
The movie is a great favorite of mine. I am drawn to past and present stories that are twined together so I looked forward to reading this book. The book is much more complex than the movie, with lots of poetry dotting the literary landscape. The characters were more well rounded - you got a real feel for who they were, what made them tick, and how time and culture had an impact on them. Every chapter makes you want to know more about them and the love stories that blossomed at the end of each era were tender and appropriate - and isn't a good love story more about the emotional connection than the physical one, in the end?
reviewed Possession on + 289 more book reviews
The title Possession could refer to so many things in this academic detective story. It could be the professional obsession that academics have for their subject, or passion that takes over two poets in Victorian England. When postdoc Roland uncovers drafts of a letter from poet RH Ash to an unknown woman, he tries to trace it in secret. Rather than a straightforward literary detective novel, large swathes of verse and correspondence are mixed into the narrative. Those who like reading about academia in a former age, Norse and French mythology, or the role of women in art might enjoy that, but I thought it jarred the narrative. However, this was an interesting book from the list of 1001 books you must read before you die.
reviewed Possession on + 166 more book reviews
Published in 1990, this complex and layered story of love and intellectual mystery, was called "one of the best books of the year.' by the NY Times Book Review.
reviewed Possession on + 12 more book reviews
A Booker Prize Winner! Enough said!
reviewed Possession on + 10 more book reviews
I tried to read this book before the movie was ever made (or in project I think). It is a national bestseller and received rave reviews from NY Times etc. I just could not get into it. I tried and tried and it sounds great, maybe it's me My friend Kyla read it and loved it! ps- the movie not worth it, the book is the way to go.
reviewed Possession on + 15 more book reviews
Booker Prize winning book of romance and mystery. Two scholars lives sort of mirror the lives of the people they are researching. A very original book, well written and satisfying. NY Times called it a "...tour de force..."
reviewed Possession on + 20 more book reviews
This is an intellectual and literary novel, moves slowly, but interesting if you love literature and poetry.
reviewed Possession on
I started reading this and it wasn't my thing, but I know others loved this book.
reviewed Possession on + 12 more book reviews
The book is better than the movie. I enjoyed reading this one.
reviewed Possession on + 18 more book reviews
Now a major motion picture. A romance about two young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets.
reviewed Possession on + 42 more book reviews
Lovely story and a true romance. "A masterpiece of wordplay and adventure..." - Los Angeles Times book review
ozma avatar reviewed Possession on + 22 more book reviews
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was one of my favorite selections when I was going through college!
grrrgirl avatar reviewed Possession on + 9 more book reviews
A huge undertaking, but worth it. Excellent shape.
reviewed Possession on + 23 more book reviews
...most dazzling novel of the year - USA Today
reviewed Possession on + 3 more book reviews
This copy has a little more than average wear. Still fully intact & readable though.
reviewed Possession on + 5 more book reviews
The version I have does not have the movie cover.
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