A novel by A.S. Byatt, for which she won the Booker Prize in 1990. This is the book that made Byatt's reputation in America, and solidified her name in Britain.
Like all of Byatt's work, this novel is intensely literary. It's a kind of mystery story which tells of two twentieth-century academics unravelling the story of a romance between two Victorian poets. Its narrative thread weaves a beautiful tapestry which incorporates the lives of two sets of protagonists and the people that surround them, including partners, biographers, professors, colleagues, and friends. It's also a meditation on biography and possession, America and Britain, men and women, feminismism and lesbianism, sex and friendship, and so much more. The novel's structure is non-linear, and incorporates passages from the poems and letters of the Victorian pair and the biographies of them by the modern characters. The book is also often very amusing, and has a surprising, and surprisingly satisfying, ending. I really loved this book; it's a great read.
This novel was made into a movie in 2002, but it passed through theatres before I could see it. A gander at the DVD explained why. Gwyneth Paltrow does a passable job at the main modern-day character - and she is one of the only American actors who can do a convincing British accent - but her romantic interest (Aaron Eckhardt) is wooden, and his chin is so extravagantly cleft that it screams "implant"! Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle are fine as the now-dead lovers, but the rest of the characters are rendered so telegraphically as to make the story almost meaningless to a viewer who hasn't read the book. Granted, it's not easy to write a screenplay based on a complex book, but it is possible; read and then see The English Patient for an example. Possession fails, though. Too bad.
If you don't mind spoilers, have a look at fuzzy and blue's The Ideal Relationship in A.S. Byatt's "Possession".