Fiction: “Possession, by A.S. Byatt

Re-read. Our April challenge book.

Speaking of academia (as we were when reading Davies)…very dazzling. Funny and wicked about the academy and these kind of blighted lives; people that love literature and get trapped where they’re just drudges to this work–in this case especially, the woman with the index cards about the wife. Such a miserable life, inflicting misery on each other.

Really makes us laugh when the American woman sweeps in and creates all this sturm und drang–of course that’s how the Brits see us. We come in and just start breaking stuff!!

Maude = very well-written character. Interesting person with her own hurts and wounds, but a really good person. Always think it’s cool that they got together in a way.

The book itself is really a literary tour de force when you think about all the stuff Byatt wrote for it! Not just the book itself, but also Ash’s poetry, Christabel’s poetry, their letters, his wife’s diary, Sabine’s diary, various letters. Re-reading it though, we find ourselves skimming some parts. Artistically great, but do we need to read 8 pages of a Spenserian poem before moving on to the next chapter? Even in earlier readings, we remembered being kind of impatient at some parts–want to go on with the story. Didn’t need that much extra to see the ability–sometimes clogged the narrative flow. And the characters give you the exposition so you don’t need to have the whole thing.

Always knocked out by that connection with the mystical weirdness, the seance–when you realized she made him think the kid was dead. Very moving at the end–when you see he did get to meet the kid and realize the truth / and watching his wife thinking she’s hiding it from him. Byatt really projected you back into this other story–the modern story in a way was a happier one. This is one of those books that breaks my heart every time I read it.

Some scenes such a rush, and have a great mystery feel, as when Maude figures out the letters are hidden.

Verdict: still really good. So worth re-reading.

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