Possession by A.S. Byatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this, it is my second Byatt for the year, (I read The Children's Book in Feb). But this, this I LOVE. I like how Byatt tells a story, she has stories within stories, fables, poems, letters and I'm sure I'm not the first person to use the word 'faction', but I enjoy reading about the history of things, be it people, places, etc., in a fiction setting. It tends to peak my interest more than a straight text book.
For me the parts which focus on the Victoria era, (with Randolph and Christabel), are my favorite, it should be noted - both of these poets are fictional, but have been said to have been based on Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti. It was also written in response to John Fowles's 'The French Lieutenants Woman', which I haven't read yet. Along with our secret lovebirds we have Roland and Maud, who are two academics in present day London, researching the connection between the poets.
I'd seen the movie adaption of this a long time ago, so I had preset ideas from that, and while I do like the movie,(I thought Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle as Ash & LaMotte were perfect), the book was so much better. There was more to it, or maybe my experience was more engrossing than watching the movie. And after reading the book I'm not sure why they decided to change Roland to an American rather than English.
The letters between Ash and LaMotte were wonderfully written, from the first very formal and proper contact to the later letters where you can just feel everything come off the page. The letters where he declares his love for her and her reply - gah! THE FEELS!! My favorite line from the whole thing is from Christabel's reply - although her whole reply is freaking awesome. She still calls him Sir, which I love. And the way she writes of him consuming her, that their love for each other will burn them up, totally swoon worthy.
"No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed."
And that is the beauty of Byatt's writing, it is so perfect that you believe that it is all real. It's gorgeous and captivating and you get a real sense of the the characters. This is probably the only time I have ever felt for a couple that had a relationship outside of marriage. Ash is married and has a devoted wife, but the marriage was never consummated, although they did love each other. With Christabel he found a passionate relationship, although that isn't to say that their relationship didn't hurt anybody. You don't meet her often, but Blanche, who was Christabel's companion, is devastated by their relationship. Ash's wife knew about them, but accepted the relationship.
In the present day, there is also infidelity to deal with, Roland is in a long term relationship which is affected by the discovery of the letters. I'm trying to not give too much away, but I don't think either Roland or his partner, (who's name escapes me), minded much about their relationship continuing. I find this aspect interesting, because usually I'm very anti cheating.
I would love to see this remade into a miniseries and the story be given the full attention that a 1 1/2 hour movie couldn't do justice to. Until then, I'll be keeping Possession on my reread pile.
I could wax lyrical about this all day, but rather than faffing on, I'll just tell you to read it! Possession is well worth it.
View all my reviews
Have you read Possession yet? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to keep chatting about it. Or anything else you may have read over Easter break.
Until next time, happy reading :)