POSSESSION: A ROMANCE
by A.S. Byatt
Random House; 555 pages; $22.95
This novel comes to the U.S. trailing clouds of glory. On Oct. 16 A.S. Byatt's Possession won the Booker Prize, Britain's most ballyhooed and prestigious literary award, for the year's best novel, beating out works by such well-known nominees as Brian Moore, Beryl Bainbridge and Mordecai Richler. Three days later, in Dublin, Byatt picked up the Irish Times/Aer Lingus international fiction prize. The take from both awards added up to about $82,000.
Now American readers who know of Byatt, if at all, as the elder sister of Margaret Drabble will...