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A Love Story That Is and A Romance That Could Have Been,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Possession (Vintage International) (Taschenbuch)
Possession, labeled a romance, is certainly that. But it is also much, much more. The book is a tremendous undertaking of style and verve, a romance on two levels, and a bizarre detective story all rolled into one.
The main characters of Possesion are Roland Michell, a true academic and Maud Bailey, a researcher, but the stars of the book are really the long-dead R.H. Ash and Christabel LaMotte.
In Possession, Byatt gives much attention to minor detail. In fact, her detailing is so subtle that many nuances may be missed on a first reading.
Byatt's writing is beautiful and filled with simple, descriptive language and gorgeous imagery. The majority of the story is rich in both metaphor and allusion, with the following passage being a prime example: "One night they fell asleep, side by side, on Maud's bed, where they had been sharing a glass of Calvados. He slept curled against her back, a dark comma against her pale elegant phrase."
Most of the chapters in Possession begin with a fictitious work by Ash or LaMotte, but Byatt has not only written them well, she has fashioned each so that it is in keeping with the character of its fictitious author.
Ash and LaMotte are both of the Romantic period, yet Ash is more open and free than is LaMotte, who writes with obvious rhyme and rhythm. It is this--Byatt's ability to create so many different writing styles for each of her characters and fit them to the character so perfectly, that makes Possession come to life for the reader.
Possession is not a straightforward narrative, however. Much of the story is told through the letters of Ash and LaMotte, again, beautifully crafted by Byatt. It is through their letters that we really get to know Ash and LaMotte as well as Roland and Maud. The knowledge gained in the past relationship between Ash and LaMotte allows the present-day relationship between Roland and Maud to come to life.
Possession is a story of lost romantic love and, as such, it may seem, at first glance, to be just another trite book on a trite and overly-written subject. Nothing could be further from the truth. Byatt has conferred a freshness of outlook on Possession that makes it unlike any other novel of failed romance and love gone wrong.
Roland and Maud are, without a doubt, two quite ordinary people. But Byatt has given them something quite extraordinary to do. These two would-be lovers are actually on a quest, and their lives, as well as their love, seem to mirror and parallel Ash and LaMotte's in more ways than one.
But all is certainly not smooth sailing for Roland and Maud. Roland has Val, his live-in lover to deal with and Val, unlike many an "unwanted" lover is not a woman to be summarily dismissed.
What really makes Possession sparkle and sets it apart from any other typical romance is the connection Roland and Maud have to the past and to Ash and LaMotte. This adds a mystical, almost surreal, quality to the story that could have so easily turned maudlin in the hands of a writer less talented than Byatt. Byatt, however, intertwines past and present with perfection and keeps the reader spellbound with the suspension of disbelief.
A few passages containing expletives seem out of place in this otherwise dazzling novel and really seem beneath the obvious talent and ability of a first-class writer like Byatt.
Byatt has titled her novel perfectly. The word, "possession," crops out several times throughout the story: the possession of the stolen letters, the possession of the lovers to each other, the possession of the past to the present. Byatt obviously began working with the motif of possession in mind.
While certainly not of the romance genre, Possession contains enough romance to satisfy even the most voracious. The characters are creations of tremendous depth and we find it easy to love them or hate them or pity them, but never dismiss them.
The intertwining plots work on many levels and work so well that many readers will often find themselves wondering if the story is purely fiction or based in reality.
Finally, the beautiful writing captures and holds the reader's attention and adds to the fantasy that is unfolding. Although some readers might find the many letters and poems contained in this book distracting, they do enrich the story and lend a depth that would definitely be lost had Byatt failed to included them.
A finely-crafted novel of parallel lives and parallel loves, Possession is, for the most part, a lyrical look, not at what really was, but what so easily could have been.