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The Game [Paperback]

A.S. Byatt
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 27 1992
Cassandra is an Oxford don; Julia, her sister, a bestselling novelist. They share a set of disturbing memories of a strange childhood game and of Simon, the handsome young neighbour who loved them both. Years later Simon re-enters their lives via a television programme on snakes and intrudes into their uneasy compromise of mutual antagonism and distrust. The old, wild emotions surge back, demanding and urgent, and this time the game is played out to a fatal finsih. Rich in ideas, subtle and exhilarating, The Game is a superb novel.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Vintage continues to reprint works by Byatt, the acclaimed author of Possession : this season brings a novel about two estranged sisters, The Game , and the collection Sugar and Other Stories .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Complex and thoughtful" Times Literary Supplement "One of our finest living novelist, who manages to tease and to satisfy both the intellect and the imagination" Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Byatt's best, by a long shot Jan. 22 2002
I think the Ingram reviewer above was on something when he wrote of the "danger" that grew from the sisters' game, and of the "evil man determined to control their thoughts". I didn't get any of that out of _The Game_.
_The Game_ is basically the story of two sisters: Julia, a sociable but shallow novelist who writes about the boredom of domestic life; and Cassandra, a nunlike scholar who hides away from real life in the cloistered world of high academia. The "game" referred to in the title is an imaginary Arthurian world invented by the sisters when they were children, but it has little bearing on the rest of the novel, except in that Cassandra went on to become an Arthurian scholar, and Julia uses it as an example of Cassandra's condescension. It could have been dropped from the plot without much effect, which is sad for me, since the Arthurian element is the biggest reason I wanted to read the book in the first place.
Leaving out Arthur, who is mostly irrelevant anyway, we have Julia and Cassandra, who are just repairing their estranged relationship, when Simon Moffat comes back into their life. Simon was both women's first love; Cassandra adored him from a distance, while Julia slept with him. This triangle was the reason for their estrangement. When he reappears, so do the tensions between the sisters.
_The Game_ failed to engage me; most of the characters were pretty one-dimensional and cold. Cassandra had a few moments of stunning dignity, but she didn't seem real either. A.S. Byatt has gotten much better since.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A.S. Byatt's rich style Feb. 17 1997
By A Customer
I had read _Babel Tower_ before I found _The Game_, so I was
already somewhat familiar with Byatt's style. _The Game_, though its plot is not as complex as _Tower_ per se, is much more rich in many ways. The novel deals intimately with the lives of two sisters (and secondarily, a daughter), and Byatt keeps all her characters in perspective. Though several male characters are in the book, Byatt makes sure the reader knows they are only part of the game the sisters play. This is especially evident when reading two seperate fight scenes: the first is between one sister and her husband, and though it describes violence (hurled furniture, angry shouts) its tone stays amazingly static and aloof. On the other hand, when the same sister and her daughter have an about equally violent fight, the language is much more emotional and gripping. This is just one example of the almost perfect control Byatt has over her words. I would have to say she is one of the best masters of diction and style I have come across yet.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A foreshadowing of Byatt's work to come Jan. 6 1997
By A Customer
This earlier novel deals with many of Byatt's favorite themes: the relationships between sisters, the creative process, literary criticism, the academic world, the struggle of married women to retain their intellectual and personal identity within a circumscribing institution. The game of the title is an Arthurian fantasy devised in childhood by two intense, competitive, and willful sisters, now estranged. To the sisters, the game retains even in adulthood a vibrance and power to which real life cannot compare. To the reader, however, the game is frustratingly vague. In later works, Byatt would have articulated the game as an alternative and interwoven narrative, but here Byatt refuses readers access to the tantalizing imaginative world of her characters. Thus, the characters remain slightly repellent ciphers and the novel seems merely a earlier draft for the richer novels Byatt had not yet written. This books seems to be more closely autobiographical than some later works on the same themes, and perhaps for this reason she feels compelled to keep the reader at arm's length.

An unsatisfying exercise interesting only in the context of Byatt's later writings.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Not "Possession..." June 2 2001
Like [others], I, too was disappointed somewhat with The Game. In Byatt's other work, her characters seem more fully developed and their problems seem more real. In this work, Julia and Cassandra are superficial actors of a cerebral plot, and because of this I found it difficult to care about what happened to either of them. I thought Byatt's plot had the potential to be quite intriguing; however, it was difficult to understand at times the interplay between what was actually happening in the lives of Julia and Cassandra and how they made those occurrences "real" for one another. I rate this book a 3 because it fades considerably when compared to Byatt's other work, most notably Possession. This is not to say that it is poorly written -- Byatt has a familiar style that carries the reader along quite nicely. The flaws here are a plot that fails to truly engage the reader and characters who do not demand the reader's sympathy.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A dark, frustrating read from an author I love Nov. 3 1999
By A Customer
Although A.S. Byatt is my favorite modern author, I must agree with the reader who says this seems like a draft for one of her later novels. I found it very frustrating that I could never connect with either of the two sisters in the novel, nor understand what game they were playing--either literally or figuratively--with each other. The description of the childhood game of imagination Byatt gives is not at all compelling; it's very difficult to believe that this game could have controlled the sisters' lives. In addition, the story is unremittingly dark and hopeless. Although Byatt often explores dark themes, there are usually also "bright spots," of love, joy, or at least everyday happiness to counterbalance them. I was happy to finish this book but, since it is the ONLY Byatt work I have disliked, I continue to look forward to what comes next!
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