Winner of the Booker Prize.
‘Possession’ is a spellbinding intellectual mystery and an utterly transfixing love story.
Roland Michell and Maud Bailey are young academics in the 1980s researching the lives of two Victorian literary figures: the major poet Randolph Henry Ash and the lesser-known “fairy poetess” Christabel LaMotte. After coming across hints of a long-buried and potentially explosive secret in the poets’ letters and journals, Maud and Roland join forces to track their subjects’ movements from London to Yorkshire to Brittany, tracing clues embedded in poems and hunting down evidence in dusty archives and in a freshly opened grave. Their eagerness to uncover the truth draws the two lonely scholars together, but what they discover will have implications they could not have imagined.
An extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas, ‘Possession’ is woven throughout with invented historical documents and poetry of dazzling richness and depth, bringing Byatt’s Victorian characters vividly to life. The result is both a gripping story and a brilliant exploration of the nature of love and obsession—and of what we can know about the past.