OpinioN8

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I now usually have two books on the go at any one time. An old fashioned thing made of paper and cardboard, and another on my Google Nexus Kindle emulator. I just dare not risk the electronic version in the bath - once dropped it would never work again, whereas I have ironed quite number of paerbacks back into readable condition.

My paper book at the moment is Possession by A S Byatt. A very considerable contrast to my electronic reading which is the series of Jack Reacher death fests by Lee Child. Possession is a book about academics - the official synopsis is below - and their arcane researches into little known facts about the lives of 19th Century literary figures. On the face of it a complete turn off for someone with my outlook on life. But I am utterly gripped by the book. I like the way the author has invented these two Victorian writers and developed works for them in their own style, although some of the ersatz 19th century story telling and poetry does cause me to skip a few pages (like elven song in Tolkien). I have not got to the end of the book yet, but I have come to care that the two main characters, Bailey and Michell, are probably going to come a cropper, both personally and professionally.

Maud Bailey is a scholar researching the life and work of her distant relative, a little known 19th-century poet named Christabel LaMotte. Roland Mitchell is looking into an obscure moment in the life of another Victorian poet, the celebrated Randolph Henry Ash. Together, the two uncover a dark secret in Ash’s life: though apparently happily married, he conducted a torrid affair with LaMotte that has never before come to light. As Maud and Roland dig into the facts, they also find themselves falling in love.

Tags: booker, byatt, possession

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