I greatly admired and enjoyed A.S. Byatt's Possession (Chatto, £13.95) which de- serves its nomination as novel of the year. It is good to see a woman novelist de- ploying such Victorian energy. I loved Alice Munro's stories, Friend of My Youth (Chatto, £13.99); she has candour and integrity and has produced a truly dignified body of work. I adored Updike's Rabbit at Rest (Andre Deutsch, £14.99) which is shameless, intimate, ludic, and rounded off with a nice sense of fatality. I was dis- appointed in everything the publishers advertised at full throttle, which underlines my conviction that hyperbole brings dimi- nishing returns — writers should avoid it like the plague. With the exception of the Byatt, Munro and Updike titles I was occasionally at a loss for something to read, so I went back to Nabokov, and am going through the lot again: matchless.