They say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’…I wish I could say the last month of reading had soared past me, it has not. I have continued reading, albeit at the pace of a wounded snail – and yet I have not finished. This, I fear, is a book that could cure a bibliophile, and yet it is by no means a ‘bad book’.
Possession: A Romance trips along, almost blithely unaware of its reader. It makes no allowances for the less literary reader, it makes no apology for its hearty indulgence in all things academic, it is, one might argue, rather impressed by itself. But am I impressed? On the whole, no; although Byatt scatters just enough sparks of interest to keep me grudgingly turning the pages. Like a loved one who persuades you to try something you never wanted to, this book calls you on, assuring you that there’s something coming that’ll make all of this worthwhile…I only hope that’s real light I can see at the end of the metaphorical tunnel and not a bloody flame that Byatt will stamp out in the book’s final pages.
The book’s title purports it to be a romance, but are romance and love the same thing? I presumed so at the outset, but am beginning to question whether Byatt has chosen the word romance carefully and cunningly. So far, I have seen some very two-dimensional people profess feelings I am not convinced they feel. That is to say, I find their romance unconvincing. This is not love as I know it, in fact I would go so far as to say that if it’s love you’re looking for I’d stick to Katie Fforde. At least you might find yourself vaguely able to relate to the characters, even if they do live in a smiley marshmallow world full of happy endings.
That brings me neatly to the topic of endings…the only thing I don’t know about this book…how will it end? I have my suspicions…I hope to be proved wrong. Currently my vision is this…that as I reach the novel’s end the light from Byatt’s flame will begin to die out, the sparks will cease to light the tunnel and I will find myself romanced by an author who holds in her possession a month (maybe two?) of my life. A month where I could quite probably have read every Katie Fforde novel ever published and thus be floating cosily along in a marshmallow bubble. My question is this…is it better to feel sick having devoured too many of Fforde’s sweet pages or to feel bitter having repeatedly forced Byatt down your throat?