A. S. Byatt’s Possession: The Secret Love Lives of Dead Poets

The Bookshelf of Emily J.

Possession (1990), number 80 on the BBC book list , by A. S. Byatt is a literary thriller about academics.  White it has been highly acclaimed and even has status as a bestseller, I wondered if everybody could truly like or enjoy this book, or if only bibliophiles, English majors , and academics would be drawn to its charm.

possession cover

The premise is that Ph.D. student and research assistant Roland Michell finds some lost love letters of fictional and famous English poet Randolph Henry Ash to a woman not his wife.  Roland follows the research trail of some letter fragments, eventually figuring out to whom they were written.  He ends up collaborating with another academic, Maud Bailey, in chasing the leads to the mystery woman, another fictional poet named Christabel LaMotte.  It turns out that the two had an unknown love affair chronicled in their letters, which Roland and Maud find…

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