Jump to content

Recommended Posts

This was on my Top Ten list, and I noticed that it cropped up on a number of other people's lists too.

 

Why do you love it - if you listed it? Anyone out there hate it - and why?

 

My guilty secret is that though I love the book, I always say, "This time I read it, I'm really, really going to read all the poems, too" - but I always end up skipping them :o

 

I love the way the two time frames are intertwined, and the combination of romance and detective story. I love the two modern day academics grow together, from such an unlikely start. Writing this is making me want to rush off and reread it!

 

Though I love this, I haven't read much else by A S Byatt - what else is worth a try??

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just been doodling around on google for no apparent reason, (I'm not even supposed to be on the internet at the moment! :o ) and I came across this wonderful essay by A S Byatt, on how she came to write Possession - it's really, really well worth a read.

 

Choices: On the Writing of Possession

 

My very tenuous claim to fame. A. S. Byatt was good friends with the English teacher of the friend who recommended Possession to me. Go on, admit it, I can tell you're impressed :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed this book, although I too did not read all the poems! I also have the video of the film with Gwyneth Paltrow in it - I'm afraid it is not very good and not a patch on the book!

 

We did it at the reading group I go to and I know I wrote down a list of loads of other books by this author - I'll try and find it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a great essay Claire- thanks for posting it. I particularly liked the section where she described her gestalt as green and gold because that seems to me to be the exact colours of the novel, if you can allow that novels can be colours :) And the episode where the poems wrote themselves sounds rather scary!

 

I'm like you - if I had been reading this book I would have skipped the poems, but as I listened to it I didn't have any choice. Although I'm not sure they added anything to my enjoyment of the novel so I will feel justified in skipping them in future. I tend to be a surface reader - deep and meaningful allusions go over my head - so I enjoyed this novel for the characters and the mystery. I always enjoy reading about writers and I like part epistolary novels too, combine that will a page-turning mystery and its a winner.

 

I'm babbling now...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Claire

Why not try her short stories. I recommended Possession to my son when he was doing his GCSE's 8 years ago, he went on to do a Masters which included a dissertation on Possession.

 

Ooh, yes, I have read some of her short stories. They weren't quite what I expected, really. Set in modern academia, largely, but with genies in lamps, and all manner of imigrants from the world of fairy stories. I did enjoy them, once I got past the, "What the heck is going on here", factor! Thanks for the suggestion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

I've just finished reading this book for the second time, at about 3am this morning! It is brilliant, but I do feel a bit like 'why am I putting myself through this again?' because it is quite painful too. As a real glutten for punishment, I've just watched the film adaptation too, this afternoon. The film misses out about 80% of the plot and characters, but also I think misses the point, its just accidental in the film that the 'detectives' are academics, but in the book its important, to do with theories and biographers and archivists! The essay is really interesting, its interesting to hear what her inspirations were.

 

I got quite different ideas of what the main idea of the book was from the book and from the film, and wondered what you all think of this too - do you think the main thing is about the romance itself? or about academics and readers and meanings they put into texts? or about a past moment being briefly connected to the present?

 

In the film there is a lot of Maud worrying that relationships mean nothing - I don't think there was as much of that in the book, it seems the characters are more concerned about getting past all the baggage of being modern and trying to find romance too...? But in the film i was struck by the idea that maybe the thing that is supposed to give the Ash-Lamotte romance meaning is the child - the actual physical link to the present? which is quite a modern idea itself really, not that romantic at all, kind of admitting that the thing driving their romance was a biological urge to reproduce. Do you think the romance is only supposed to have meaning because it is now known about? The passage where Maud says how different it must have been in the 1850s because they would have felt their love really mattered but were the lovers supposed to have thought it mattered in itself or does the preservation of the letters show that they wanted it to be known too? and the secret meanings in the poems? I enjoyed reading the poems - maybe not all of them in detail but I enjoyed how you can see new layers of meaning as you find out more.

 

The only thing I was glad about in the film was Jennifer Ehle playing Christabel - she's so brave to have taken on that part, as she was to have played Elizabeth Bennett, thank goodness she does the characters justice. Is there no part she is afraid of?! But I thought that section of the film was well done.

 

I wish AS Byatt would do an author Q+A on here! Any chance Claire...? There are so many things to think about in this book. The next thing I meant to read after this (coincidentally) was Jane Austen's letters, but I don't know how I feel about that now... I'll definitely be looking out for gaps but trying not to assume I can see the real person...the letters are a sort of fiction too really aren't they?

 

I'm so glad the first time I read Possession I hadn't been to university yet, for one it gave me a real suspicion of literary theory which I think it healthy! But if I had been first I would have perhaps seen the theory side of the novel a bit too much, instead of falling for the story first and foremost. Then again there are thing which I get more now, the essay by Leonora is hilarious, reminded me of all sorts of essays my feminist medieavalists who see anything, absolutely anything, as sexual organs/metaphors for sex/introduce concepts that surely can't possibly have been in the minds of the writers at the time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...
  • 3 years later...

Dull, dull, dull! One dimensional characters and a boring storyline. I struggled to three quarters of the way through then realised I had a life and better things to do and walked happily away from it. Safe in the knowledge that I'll never let another A S Byatt novel near me again. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

Cathy, I'm glad you posted this. I remember meeting you and finding BGO through this book, so it's responsible for me being here. :D

Anyway, it's interesting how we see different things every time we read the book again. I've read it three times now, the first time I just skipped the poems (I'm not much into poetry), the second time I had a glance at them and the third time I really read them. Doesn't mean I understood them a lot better, though. I'm just not a poetry person.

Anyway, I agree with you, Cathy, the book is very different from the film, as usual. But that doesn't mean that I didn't like the film, on the contrary, it was actually quite good despite the fact that it seemed so different.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Similar Content

    • By Flingo
      Flingo 4th January 2006 10:47 PM

      ...so far.

      I can really relate to this from Chapter 6:

      [Cropper] arrived, reasonably satisfied, at Barratt's Hotel, which he had chosen partly for its comfort, but more because American writers, visiting Ash, had stayed there in the past.

      I would certainly choose one location over another if I felt it had significant literary connections!

      Cathy 7th January 2006 01:49 PM

      How about Val saying 'Oh its all very interesting, my menial keyhole observations, make no mistake. Just it doesn't make sense and it leaves me nowehere'
      *shiver* too true!
    • By Flingo
      Rescued Thread

      Flingo 3rd March 2006 03:43 PM

      I have just seen that in past book groups there has been a poll at the end to guage overall feeling. Although I suspect there will be a resounding "Excellent" I would be interested in seeing how you vote.

      (Hope no-one minds me doing this - sorry if I am stepping on your toes).



      elfstar 3rd March 2006 04:08 PM

      I am glad to see this although I think you are right in how it will be judged. I was nothing like as enthralled by it as I expected to be and have found the other discussions rather intense.



      Tess 3rd March 2006 04:36 PM

      An 'indifferent' for me. The basis of the story was excellent but I just found it a chore to get through and the poetry nearly finished me off!



      Momo 3rd March 2006 09:39 PM

      I've already read it three times and my paperback is falling to pieces. So I have decided that I need another copy - something I hardly ever do. Therefore, I am sure you can guess my vote!



      Cathy 4th March 2006 08:59 PM

      Its so nerve-racking when something you love is up for public debate! But I'm glad some of you liked it and I'm sorry some of you didn't!



      Thumbsucker 5th March 2006 09:54 AM

      I thought the book was very good. It's one of those where you read in awe of the author. All those subtle links and metaphors. I, like some of you, struggled with the poetry. It wasn't that I found it boring, just that I knew that was so much in it. Perhaps that's why I couldn't give it an excellent. It's no reflection on the novel but more on the sort of reader I am. I fall into the 'so many books so little time, can't possibly reread one' camp. This is a book that needs to be reread and revisited and perhaps if my attitude to reading changes I will come back to it. The story has stayed with me though and I'm glad that it was a group read because I don't think that I would have read it otherwise.



      Claire 5th March 2006 08:13 PM

      Excellent, without a shadow of a doubt. This is my third or fourth reading, and the first time I've properly read the poetry, rather than skimming it and I'm glad I finally did that, it added an extra layer to the story, which I enjoyed.



      MarkC 9th March 2006 11:41 AM

      First reading for me. I loved it, although I did skim the poetry as I found that hard going.



      Momo 9th March 2006 05:40 PM


      I think most of us did that at our first read, there's just too much to think about. But - even though I'm not a great poetry friend, I read and really enjoyed it the second time around.



      Seraphina 10th April 2006 12:23 PM

      I have just read this, inspired by Cathy's enthusiasm about it and I wasn't disappointed. I have to admit I hit a wall at the beginning of the first set of letters between Christabel and Ash, and actually went off and read something else in the meantime, but once I got on a roll and got through the first part of the letters I ended up really enjoying them as they got more and more personal.

      Like others I found the poetry hardgoing, particularly as I was reading it mostly on the tube in dribs and drabs which doesn't really help! I intend on buying my own copy (as I'm sure Cathy will want hers returned!) and giving it a more concentrated reading in perhaps a few months' time.

      I loved the way it all linked up together, although I did find the ending a little too 'neat' - however I'm hard to please in that respect as I don't like endings that feel 'unfinished' either! I was getting quite frustrated that


      I also liked the way we as the reader know more than the scholars, and so when they feel as if they have everything figured out we can feel almost superior, although i did find it hard to keep track of what we knew and what THEY knew!



      belwebb 16th June 2006 05:30 PM

      It took some work for me to 'get into' at the beginning, and then at one point I was enjoying the letters, but then, about a third of the way through I just lost interest - just like that. I found it a bit too dense - which is no surprise from Byatt, but then it wasn't something I had personally chosen to read - it was on my Post War Novel module in my second year!



      megustaleer 17th June 2006 11:48 AM

      Perhaps you'll be tempted to try it again if you read all the enthusiastic comments in these threads
       
    • By Momo
      I know this is from another thread but I cannot find Possession at all under the group reads and if we ever find it, it can be moved there. Anyway, here's the rescued thread: Meanings of Names

      Momo 10th January 2006 10:52 PM
      Meanings of Names

      Okay, I promised Cathy ages ago to look through my notes from our earlier discussion and post the meaning of the names some of us found. I have spoilered the notes since I don't know where everyone is.
      Any other ideas?

      -------------------------------------------------

      Cathy 11th January 2006 02:59 PM
      Thank you Momo! That's fantastic. Is the meaning of Wolf from Randolph from the word or from what happens in the novel? The dual nature as shield/wolf is really interesting.

      Just in case:
      -------------------------------------------------

      Momo 12th January 2006 03:57 PM

      Yes, that was it. As I said, I couldn't find anything about ash and the meaning etc. but I did remember we talked about it.
      -------------------------------------------------

      Cathy 12th January 2006 04:11 PM

      I think you're spot on. She calls him a 'dragon' in some of the letters. Also
      -------------------------------------------------

      greg 2nd August 2006 11:40 AM

      Link between Maud & Christabel's surnames
      -------------------------------------------------

      megustaleer 2nd August 2006 09:44 PM

      Thanks for that, greg, and welcome to BGO. Possession was a very popular book, and it's good to open up he discussion again. I'm sure there are members reading it who have joined since it was our bookgroup choice, and some folks ready to read it again.

      Do let us know a little about yourself and your reading tastes by posting in the introductions thread in Central Library.

      -------------------------------------------------

      greg 3rd August 2006 09:02 AM

      Ah, Megustaleer,

      I've just realised that I repeated you - you commented on Motte & Bailey castles in the "poll" thread. My apologies.

      greg

      -------------------------------------------------

      megustaleer 3rd August 2006 10:23 AM

      No problem, it's easy to miss a comment when discussion ranges over several threads!
    • By ZebraMc
      This is the story of children and their families growing up through late-Victorian, Edwardian times: The liberal Wellwoods, who espouse Fabian values, whilst not listening to (or even noticing!) their own kids and whose loose morals and lack of honesty with their children have difficult consequences later on; the Fludds, led by artistic Benedict, creative when manic, impossible when depressed, abusive of his daughters and heedless of his loveless marriage; the Cains, widowed Prosper with his 2 children - a kinder portrait of an intelligent, perceptive and loving father, but still one caught in the strictures of the time and unable to fully communicate.
       
      The story's canvas begins narrowly in the Kent Weald and widens progressively both geographically and historically to discuss suffragism, many philosophical ideas, politics and religion.
      Each of the Wellwood children has their own book, written by their storyteller mother, Olive, but the title of the book is well chosen as the children are the focus of the book, rather than their, often hapless, parents.
       
      I hadn't read any Byatt for ages, but have enjoyed things in the past. This is quintessentially Byatt: a mixture of a complex and engaging story, with long passages of history interwoven. I loved the saga of the families, but found some of the historical passages overly erudite. It felt a bit like she had done the research and was determined to get in the information at all costs - and, in my view, at a cost to the flow of the story. I can admire the author's erudition without necessarily enjoying it. I am a terrible judge of what is likely to win the Booker, but wonder if the judges will go for something more timely.
       
      ZebraMc
×
×
  • Create New...