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A.S. Byatt Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Frederica Quartet Books

The Virgin in the Garden (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
Still Life (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Babel Tower (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Whistling Woman (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Game (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Possession (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shadow of the Sun (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Biographer's Tale (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Children's Book (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ragnarok (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Raw Material (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Stone Woman (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Thing in the Forest (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Sugar and Other Stories (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Passions of the Mind (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Matisse Stories (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Angels and Insects (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Elementals (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Little Black Book of Stories (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Medusa's Ankles (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Degrees of Freedom (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
Unruly Times (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
Imagining Characters (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
On Histories and Stories (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Portraits in Fiction (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Writers on Artists (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Peacock & Vine (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Memory (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories(1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Deadly Sins(1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mistresses of the Dark(1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall(1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ovid Metamorphosed(2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The New Uncanny(2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Great Modern Stories(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Short Stories: The Thoroughly Modern Collection(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Granta 115: The F Word(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Women Writers' Handbook(2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

A.S Byatt is an internationally recognized author of literature and fiction novels and short stories. She was a teacher at Central School of Art before deciding to become a full-time writer. Her book, Possession, won the Booker Prize. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.

Possession has also won other prizes, including the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize in 1990 and The Eurasian section of Best Book in Commonwealth Prize in 1991. in 1986, the Still Life novel won The PEN/ Macmillan Silver Pen Of Fiction prize

The novel alternates between the past and the present, where in the past, a poet observes a mysterious creature that appears half woman and half mermaid bathing in the sea.

His curiosity brings life into inert things, making them shine with their inner glow because he doesn’t want to possess what he loves; instead, he cherishes it making it flourish in its natural state.

In the present, a researcher in a dark room can feel that history still survives in reality as his mind recites the verses written by the late Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash. Without knowing that he possesses a voice of his findings for the hidden truths of his life in the legacy of the great poet.

In the past, a petite woman with glowing eyes sat in a carriage, unmindful of the bearded man seated on the opposite side of her memorizing the lines of her features with interesting absorption. She is so protective of her independence and veiled in mystery.
Dubious of romance, her passion is dedicated to the life of language. She often speaks in tongues reciting poems from the seas of her feral imaginations

The novel has two stories with parallel plotlines where the present and the past dissolve in undelivered letters, poems, and secret diaries that act as a two-way mirror where reality becomes a mirage.

Byatt combines cultivated erudition with a literary taste and mastery of different genres as she exposes the characters to a vivid psychological section, merging the fictional plot with disquisitions.

The stories are fast-paced, with dialogues sprouting from graphic secondary characters tinted with colorful yet haunting humor to create a gothic scenario. Raging storms, spooky cemeteries, and past legends blend with splendid meditation on possession issues.
Can love be restorative instead of demanding? Does love always mean possession? Can a bird fly free in the cage of desire? The author doesn’t give clear answers; instead, she uses the third-person narrator to bring the characters to a close, allowing them to make conclusions.
The novel gives the unvarying idea that pure love only grows after letting go of the things one wants to possess. The object of one’s desire, including a professional career, a loved person, and an obsession or inspiration, is released from a selfish need by opening its locked gateways and showing us the pathway to fulfillment.

There are two timelines in the story a pair of Victorian poets, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. The story is also loosely based on Browning and Christina Rossetti and modern academics. Professional enmity and collaboration begin when a connection between the two Victorians is discovered.

The stories unfold through various documents and genres from different periods. There are references to real authors. It also alternates between being too clever and too predictive in the plot, as shown by the stereotyped characters and clichéd situations.
The layers of fictional biography make the reader wonder who is speaking on whose behalf. Possession is a story within a story about Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte, two 19the century poets who defy their situation and the times to have an affair of the mind, body, and heart. Their love is beyond measure, and like most love of this nature, it requires a high price from the two.

The other story is about Maud and Roland Mitchell, a couple of academics who study the lives of LaMotte and Ash, respectively. The two come upon a series of clues that tie the poets to one another and reveal the depths of their true relations in the end.
The author shows the fear and disgust one feels when one becomes acquainted with their body’s physicality. Byatt also shows the hatred one feels when one becomes acquainted with the tortuosity of their mind.

The Children’s Book
Although the Victorians invented the concept of childhood, they believed that children who were different from adults should be allowed to explore and speak freely, which applied only to middle and upper-class children.

In the story, Philip and Elsie are the only glimpse readers get of what childhood is for impoverished Victorian children. As the novel opens up, Cain’s son Julian and Olive’s son Tom catch Philip in the basement of the museum with a stack of expertly rendered drawings of the museum holdings.

After discovering Philip’s great talent with pottery, Olive and Cain put him with the Fludd family, where he promptly makes improvements in Benedict’s pottery studio as he works his way up to master artist and craftsmen

Philip’s sister Elsie later runs away from the potteries to join him at the Fludds’ home. Philip is a gifted working-class boy who could be a character in one of Olive’s magical stories as she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

Olive’s rambling country house and the private novels she writes for her seven children show more treachery and darkness than Philip ever thought. As the lives of adults and children unfold, deception is revealed, hearts are broken, and the truth about Olive’s family emerges.
However, their hidden desires and personal struggles will soon be eclipsed by greater forces as the era ends.

Olive and her husband, Humphrey Wellwood, are socially progressive intellectuals, writers, and proponents, and through them, the author portrays how marriage can sometimes become complicated. Byatt also portrays the complexities of sexuality, motherhood, and what it means to be a father.

The Wellwood’s are also a vehicle for the author to explore the disparity between family life and creativity and the melding of the political with the personal.

Byatt’s cast of characters is vast, representing almost a full spectrum of English society at the end of the 19th century. The novel is skillfully incorporated with children’s literature, allusions to sinister tales and fairy tales. At the novel’s center are five families and a cast of dozen held together in different ways, such as art, blood, politics, and friendships.

Book Series In Order » Authors » A.S. Byatt

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