26 October 2008

Sunday Salon: First Impressions of Possession by A. S. Byatt

I finished reading A Hopeless Romantic on Friday. The next book on my list is Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt. Both books are classified as romances and they are roughly the same length, but the similarity ends there. The first book was exactly what I expected from a modern romance novel. It was light and had characters and situations I could relate to. Possession is the opposite. I'm only on page 20 and I can tell that this book is going to make me work. The thing is, I don't know if I want to.

My first impression of this book is that it is cheerless. The main character Roland Michell has a job as a research assistant that makes him no money. He lives in a miserable flat with a woman that he doesn't hate but doesn't love and wishes she would leave him. The subject he has spent over 10 years studying, the poet Randolph Henry Ash, seems dry to me. The author has already gone into a good bit of detail about Ash in these first 20 pages, and that may be fascinating to a literature major but I barely understood any of it.

I don't expect all my books to be bright and sunny, but if I don't see a ray of sunshine soon I will probably abandon this book. I picked it up because I am trying to get involved in the book club forum on Ravelry, but I may have to wait for their next selection. If anyone out there has read it and can tell me that it will get better soon, I'd really like to hear what you have to say. If you thought Possession was a waste of time, go ahead and tell me that, too.


Table Talk said...

I had to try three times before I managed to read 'Possession' in its entirety and I only managed in the end because it was a book group choice. However, when I did get through it I was glad I had. You need to make sure that you can read large sections at a sitting, I think. It isn't a book to pick at.

Audrey said...

I never read it (it's a bad habit of mine, not reading books that I buy specifically because I want to read them!) Once I saw the movie (which I liked), I have to confess I never got around to the book.