possessionfeature

On Our Bookshelves:
Possession

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NOVEL: Possession

AUTHOR: A.S. Byatt

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1990

REVIEW:

I unabashedly adore this book, not least because it’s such an usual combination: a very literary novel (in which two young 20th century academics investigate a possible relationship between two Victorian poets) and at the same time, a page-turning thriller.

When I first read this I stayed up until the wee hours to finish it, despite having an early morning planned for the next day. Rather fortunately, it has an extremely satisfying ending. (Any sleep deprivation was absolutely worth it.)

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I now only wish I could go back and read it again for the first time (and I’d take my time with it and savor the poetry, had I another chance).

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I do have some criticisms: the American characters here aren’t named like Americans (and don’t sound particularly like Americans, either).

There’s a plot hole: a rival academic, Fergus, shows up to make trouble, then drops entirely out of the narrative. No matter.

Overall, its erudition, its love of language, its joy, its wit, its romance, and its ambition rule the day. Those who love reading, love texts, and love life…do read this book.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 5 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Heads In Beds, Jacob Tomsky

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Love Affairs Of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

The Mother & Child Project, Hope Through Healing Hands (ed.)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

What If?, Randall Munroe

Up At The Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

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Lead-In Image: The Beguiling Of Merlin, Edward Burne-Jones, Lady Lever Art Gallery

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com