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Concluding, "There's real magic behind all the brainy trickery and an emotional journey on top of the academic quest.
So I loved it." The novel was adapted as a 2002 feature film by the same name, starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud Bailey; Aaron Eckhart as Roland Michell; and Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle as the fictional poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel La Motte, respectively. The novel was also adapted as a radio play, serialised in 15 parts between 19 December 2011 and 6 January 2012, on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour.' it featured Jemma Redgrave as Maud, Harry Hadden-Paton as Roland, James D'Arcy as Ash and Rachael Stirling as La Motte.
Obscure scholar Roland Michell, researching in the London Library, discovers handwritten drafts of a letter by the fictional eminent Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash, which lead him to suspect that the married Ash had a hitherto unknown romance.
He secretly takes away the documents – a highly unprofessional act for a scholar – and begins to investigate.
Following a trail of clues from letters and journals, they collaborate to uncover the truth about Ash and La Motte's relationship, before it is discovered by rival colleagues. Byatt, in part, wrote Possession in response to John Fowles' novel The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969).
Bailey, who has spent her adult life emotionally untouchable, finds her human side and sees possible future happiness with Michell.
Ash was never informed that he and La Motte had a child.
As the Great Storm of 1987 strikes England, all the interested modern parties come together at Ash's grave, where they intend to exhume documents buried with Ash by his wife, which they believe hold the final key to the mystery.
"In short, the whole book is a gigantic tease – which is certainly satisfying on an intellectual level" but, "Possession's true centre is a big, red, beating heart.
It's the warmth and spirit that Byatt has breathed into her characters rather than their cerebral pursuits that makes us care".
I think rather the opposite is the case—this kind of fictive narrator can creep closer to the feelings and inner life of characters—as well as providing a Greek chorus—than any first-person mimicry.