Monday, August 1, 2011

Possession, by A.S. Byatt

I finished!  Yay!  I started this novel, or romantic novel, or mystery novel, or all three types, over a month ago and finished it this morning.  At 2 AM I turned the last page and breathed a sigh of relief.

I really enjoyed the last 50 pages of the 530 page + novel.  It pulled together all of the characters and created a scene that could have come right out of a Castle episode.  In fact, it read just like the episode "Under the Gun." At the end of the novel, all of the characters are brought together at a gravesite.  Two of the characters are digging up one of the other "main character's" gravesite, and find the last clue.  They solve the mystery after being caught by the actual owner of the box in gravesite, and everyone gets together at an Inn where they share the secret.

This may be giving away the end of the book, but I need to remember it for class in the fall.  I figure this is the best way to remember what it was about when the school year begins.

Even though I didn't particularly like this book, it did make me imagine how terrible the life of a literary analyst must be.  It is probably terribly interesting at moments and terribly boring most of the time.  The only character that seemed to have a fulfilling life was the American guy, Cropper, (in fact, the American woman, Leonora was pretty interesting in her "non" English enthusiasm for dead English poets).  But, now that I think about it more, none of the characters had fulfilling lives outside of their English field.  They were all wretchedly obsessed.  Except Roland's girlfriend, Val, who was depressed.  At least until she finds love with Euan, who is the character that allows the end to occur.  Without Euan as an interested solicitor who wanted to help "fix" Val, the end could not have arrived.  Funny how all the "students of literary" couldn't solve the mystery in a legal fashion.  Huh.

I am sure that criticizing literature has it positive points.  The two main characters, Maud and Roland, do find love in the end.

The novel also made the Victorian age look like a very important age in the world's development of English literature.

The two main characters, Ash and LaMotte, who are replicas of the other two main characters, Roland Michell and Maud Bailey (who lack umph or excitement for anything that isn't their love of Ash and LaMotte), fall in love even thought LaMotte appears to be a lesbian with her partner (Blanche), living in solitude and enjoying her egg-like state, and Ash is married and loves his wife, Ellen.

The novel begins to make more and more sense after wading through tons of faux literature that fills the pages.  It makes sense that the novel is so long, because half of it is the literature that all the characters read and write while they discover Ash and LaMotte's love (which turned into a child, but LaMotte is such a moral/unmoral/Victorian woman that she hides her child indefinitely from Ash (but of course Ash is so smart that he meets the child, which we find in the postscript)).

It really was fun discovering the characters and what they wrote, which explains who they are and why they are fascinating, but at moments I really wanted to get back to the story!

There was one story in the story that really stuck with me.  It a short story by, I believe, LaMotte, about a princess who is locked in a glass coffin, and a cobbler discovers her after taking a magical key from a goblin.

Every story, criticism, journal, and letter, helps bring out the characters.  But at moments there seem to be too many characters!  At other moments I forgot who I cared about, and I didn't think I cared about any of the characters.

I have a lot of respect for the writer.  She invented tons of characters and put them in history and then tried to write with her characters' genius.  I don't think she always succeeded.  But I liked the pieces she wrote for LaMotte.  It's clear that LaMotte is the main character in the writer's eyes.

I think this book will play in my head for a while to come.

The book made me think that writing convincing male characters must not be easy.

I liked the idea of this book.  Sometimes it felt pretentious, but overall it was entertaining.  And long.  And must be an English Literature grad-student's dream.  I would love to uncover a scandal that went unknown for a hundred years.  That would be so much fun!

I think I'd give this book a B+.  I liked the end.  It brought everything together so well.

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