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This thrilling novel of romance, literary history, intrigue, poetry and high drama is a modern classic
A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the Frederica Quartet; The Children's Book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999 and is the recipient of the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her 'inspiring contribution to life writing'.
The latest novel by the author of Still Life ( LJ 11/15/85) is as sumptuous as brandy-soaked Christmas fruitcake, dense with intrigue, beguiling characters, and a double-edged romance that bridges Victorian England and modern-day academia. At once literary and highly readable, the book boasts a compelling narrative that exposes the real life behind the art of two Victorian poets, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, and contrasts their passion for life with that of Maud Bailey and Roland Mitchell, contemporary scholars who stumble upon romance hidden in dusty papers. This wonderfully written work is highly recommended.-- Linda L. Rome, Mentor, Ohio
"A triumphant success on every level" Cosmopolitan "Teeming with more ideas than a year's worth of ordinary novels" Spectator "This is a novel for every taste: a heartbreaking Victorian love story, a take-no-prisoners comedy of contemporary academic life, and an unputdownable supernatural mystery. You turn the last page feeling stunned and elated, happy to have had the chance to read it" Washington Post "Possession is eloquent about the intense pleasures of reading. And, with sumptuous artistry, it provides a feast of them" Sunday Times "Our best novelist" Evening Standard
The English author of Still Life fuses an ambitious and wholly satisfying work, a nearly perfect novel. Two contemporary scholars, each immersed in the study of one of two Victorian poets, discover evidence of a previously unimagined relationship between their subjects: R. H. Ash and Christabel LaMotte had secretly conducted an extramarital romance. The scholars, ``possessed'' by their dramatic finds, cannot bring themselves to share their materials with the academic community; instead, they covertly explore clues in the poets' writings in order to reconstruct the affair and its enigmatic aftermath. Byatt persuasively interpolates the lovers' correspondence and ``their'' poems; the journal entries and letters of other interested parties; and modern-day scholarly analysis of the period. One of the poets is posthumously dubbed ``the great ventriloquist''; because of Byatt's success in projecting diverse and distinct voices, it is tempting to apply the label to her as well. Merely to do so, however, would ignore even greater skills: her superb and perpetually surprising plotting; her fluid transposition of literary motifs to an infinite number of keys; her amusing and mercifully indirect criticism of current literary theories; and her subtle questioning of the ways readers and writers shape, and are shaped by, literature. (Oct.)