October 31, 2006

Review: Possession

by A.S.Byatt

I can't say that I loved this book like I expected to. I just can't love a book that glorifies adultery, lesbianism and dishonesty. But I was really impressed with the writing and the degree of work that went into creating this tale.

What really got me was the poetry and fairy tales throughout. Byatt created two poets that differ from each other as much as two characters can in their personalities and work, but they love each other and influence each others work in ways that are hidden at first but brought to light once their affair is made known. Wow. I appreciated the work that took to be convincing.

I was surprised, repeatedly, by the turns in the story. Maybe I should have seen them coming but I didn't. As a lover of mystery I am not easily surprised by anything anymore. This, to me, is a sign of good storytelling.

But I didn't enjoy any of the characters at all. The adultery is glossed over as if it really didn't matter. The dishonesty was dealt with in a "ends justify the means" way. And the ending, at least of the modern story, was cheap. I am grateful for the ending of the Victorian story. I was afraid it was going to end on a completely bitter note.

So, all in all, I would recommend this novel to someone who appreciates writing and the mechanisms of writing. But not for the story line. If you are reading purely for entertainment, look elsewhere.

P.S. I've just received a notice from the library that the DVD of Possession with Gwyneth Paltrow is in. I'll review the movie sometime next week.

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