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Possession: A Romance

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The novel concerns the relationship between two fictional Victorian poets, Randolph Henry Ash (whose life and work are loosely based on those of the English poet Robert Browning, or Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose work is more consonant with the themes expressed by Ash, as well as Tennyson's having been poet-laureate to Queen Victoria) and Christabel LaMotte (based on Christina Rossetti), [3] as uncovered by present-day academics Roland Michell and Maud Bailey. It would be possible, Roland thought, to identify the breakfast party, which must have been one of Crabb Robinson's later efforts to provide stimulating conversation for the students of the new London University.

She is an intelligent and multi-talented author, and I was delighted to accompany her through the throes of Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte's love story to the last riveting moment. The novel explores the postmodern concerns of similar novels, which are often categorised as historiographic metafiction, a genre that blends approaches from both historical fiction and metafiction. Blackadder had a belief that she represented, for Randolph Ash, a personification of History itself in its early mythical days. I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily life with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain.

Now that the original letters are in her possession, Roland Michell escapes the potential dire consequences of having stolen the original drafts from the library. These detail that LaMotte fell pregnant due to her relationship with Ash but did not want to tell him.

Roland and Maud receive some information from Leonora Stern, Maud's colleague, that there may be further details on what exactly happened to Ash and LaMotte to be found in France. How much I owe to his continuing good health, that he should feel able and eager, at eighty-two years of age, to entertain poets and undergraduates and mathematical professors and political thinkers so early in the day, and to tell the anecdote of the Bust with his habitual fervour without too much delaying the advent of buttered toast. I am enjoying her eviscerating attack on the insular, political world of academia, with its serpent-eating-its-tail kind of irrelevance. Roland and Maud would not have been brought together if not for their interest in LaMotte and Ash's romance. I can see that putting people off to begin with, but if you picked up the book already knowing it was about Victorian poets and squabbling Victorian scholars then I would think you'd be prepared for that kind of thing and be able to wade through it.

What you said of Alexander Selkirk's monologue, the good sense you made of the ramblings of my John Bunyan, your understanding of the passion of I? Or is this perhaps a product of the over-excited brain of a middle-aged and somewhat disparaged poet, when he finds that his ignored, his arcane, his deviously perspicuous meanings, which he thought not meanings, since no one appeared able to understand them, had after all one clear-eyed and amused reader and judge? It divided her into cold, brightly coloured fires… The green silk of her scarf glittered with turreted purple ridges. As they uncover their letters, journals and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire - from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany - what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas. The librarian fetched a checked duster, and wiped away the dust, a black, thick, tenacious Victorian dust, a dust composed of smoke and fog particles accumulated before the Clean Air Acts.

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