In 62 pages of controlled, polished, very intelligent prose, Annie Ernaux recounts, in the words of her narrator, "an exercise in the abandonment of intelligence." I say 'recounts' with a certain hesitation, because, as with all of Ernaux's novels, it is unclear to what extent The Possession is autobiographical. Not that it matters.
The first-person narrator has broken off her relationship with her lover and is immediately occupied, in the double sense of both 'preoccupied' and 'possessed,' by the idea of the woman who has taken her place. Unable to extract information from the man, she becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of his new lover.
One does not have the sense that, by learning about the new woman, the narrator hopes to gain some crucial insight into herself. Rather, she is at the mercy of this double occupation, and must simply live through it, like a woman who must watch to the end a play she neither likes nor understands, but feels, against any real likelihood of success, she must decipher. As the narrator says, "In the state I was in, of uncertainty and the need to know, the most tangential clues could become brutally relevant. My talent for connecting the most disparate facts into a relation of cause and effect was prodigious."
There is present a third occupation, that of the author, Annie Ernaux, by language and the process of writing. In her earlier novel, Passion Perfect, it occurs to the narrator that writing should aim for "the impression conveyed by sexual intercourse, a feeling of anxiety and stupefaction, a suspension of moral judgement." This seems a fitting description of the dilemma and intent of The Possession.
I guess I was expecting this to be remarkable being 62 pages and the Kindle version costing 9.99! It was not, it was in diary form, with out the dates. For me, it was a woman documenting her mid-life crisis/menopausal state of mind, and her obsession with a girlfriend of a boyfriend SHE had broken up with. The whole time I was reading (which was less than an hour) I was thinking nine, ninety nine for this! Please! This author is racking up on jotting down nonsense. Oh well, no I would not recommend PURCHASING.
After hearing good things about the author, Annie Ernaux, I dove into this book eagerly. Little did I know the pool was only half filled. The concept was fine and the story is one most people can relate to on some level, but reading it felt like being subjected to a particarly annoying Facebook acquaintance's meltdown. Maybe that's the point, but it came across, at least to me, as a weak effort.
Had I picked up this book in a physical store, I would have thumbed through it and returned it to the shelf.
While I don't completely regret reading this book, I would neither recommend it nor re-read it in the future.