This book has a style and characters that are not that exciting to me, but would probably be to someone else. The characters like libraries and manuscripts and probably (it's been a while since I read it),a spot of hot tea to really make the world right. It was all very into the joys and nail-biting of academia, if that's what you like, with an extra teaspoon of fuss-budget. The characters seem a little geriatric for as young as they're supposed to be. Some books of this genre really work for me (give me Jane Austen and yes, some Earl Grey),and I wish this could have been one. (The Historian by E. Kostova was good, too).
I am a stickler for narrators and this is well done. It's a little challenging of a story to follow with the timeline jumping from one century to the other but it's a beautiful book. Very dense, will be listening/reading a second time.
This puts a nice twist on the detective story. No murder here, but intrigue and excitement through missing documents, poems, and letters from dead poets.
My only complaint is the narrator gives a Deep South, Georgia, accent to a character from New Mexico.
I did not imagine that this premise could result in a story with an engaging and uncommon romance, characters that would engender pathos and suspense-filled scenarios! This was my first Byatt read, and I was absolutely floored by the range
EXASPERATING : I usually finish what I start to read, even if I don't like it. But with this book, I have really lost my patience after 12 hours of listening and decided to abandon it. So my critique is based on the first half of the novel.
BORING LYRICISM : Half of the text is written as poetry, poetical descriptions of the nature and scholastic considerations about literature. This mock poetry gets on your nerves : everything must be described in detail and with superlative adjectives, over an extended period of time.
PREDICTABLE PLOT : It should be a thriller, but the plot is very predictable.
NO LOVE IN THE AIR: It should be a double love story, but I could not feel the build up of the romance neither in the Victorian couple, nor in the academic couple. In fact, I could not understand what made the Victorian couple fall in love. They talk a lot about love, but they seem like an old couple adressing each other with "Dahling" and quite determined to end their affair after a weekend. Expect no Mr. Darcy.
FEMINIST STEREOTYPES : Feminism is stereotypical - poor female scholar or poet could not reach celebrity because of their sex.
POOR PERFORMANCE : I didn't like the narrator (Virginia Leishman) either. There are times in the dialogue when one cannot tell who's talking, she doesn't do different voices very well (unlike Juliet Stevenson). She has a way of pronouncing the sound "s" that's a bit annoying. Her intonation makes all the characters seem arrogant, phony and icy.
CONCLUSION : Despite an interesting description I was disappointed both by the novel itself and by its rendition. But mostly I did not like the book itself.
I would definitely try another by Virginia Leishman. With the exception of her American accent, all the regional British and Scottish accents were very good. The American accent sounded vaguely southern, despite the fact that Cropper was from New Mexico. I figured that was the best she could do, and it wasn't too terrible. I have definitely heard worse.
As for Ms. Byatt, I would need some really strong recommendation to read her again. At its core, this book has some intriguing characters, an interesting story, and a satisfying ending. But the journey was not enjoyable. I found much the writing somewhat tedious, and I debated whether or not I would actually finish. I'm glad I did, and I'm actually looking forward to the movie, which may "cut to the chase" and be a bit more satisfying.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I love this book -- read it when it first came out and then again for a book club. Several years have passed. One of the things I love about Audible is finding a fondly remembered book, then discovering a whole new experience in the hearing of it! Possession is very well narrated here, and I just had a wonderful wallow in the joys of this book's language! The plot combines poetry, historical and contemporary romance, and a literary mystery. Possession is not for everyone, but, if you have the occasional poetic and romantic inclination, make the investment.