The Children's Book Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Apr 21 2009
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“May well be her masterpiece…. The kind of novel that can remind us why we fell in love with books and literature in the first place.”
— The Gazette
“Proves yet again what a force she is…. Remarkable, peerless, and wilfully and delightfully and unapologetically intellectual, the kind of writer who makes you marvel at what she manages to put on the page.”
— The Herald
“Byatt’s novel combines meaty ideas with the breathless page-turning propulsion of an old-fashioned saga…. Brimming with intelligence and sensuality, this is the perfect summer book.”
— Metro UK (Book of the Week)
“This book made me thirsty: Whenever I put it down, it nagged me to pick it up again…. Monumental, pure, beautiful…. After more than 40 years of writing, Byatt can still breathe magical life into historical fiction, giving her abiding interests new relevance with each work.”
— The Globe and Mail
“The Children’s Book is a consummate work of art.”
—Scotland on Sunday
“Easily the best book Byatt has written since the Booker-winning Possession.”
— The Sunday Times
“Magnificent loquacity…. Gripping and often deeply affecting.”
— Literary Review
“Compulsively readable…. This extraordinarily rich book is superbly embedded in the thoughts and beliefs and feelings of the period — and indeed in its interior décor.”
— The Spectator
“You can count on A.S. Byatt to produce an engrossing saga.”
“Enlightenment and social promotion and political advance in all its forms.”
— New Statesman
“Has a richness of a pictorial décor which reminds one of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.”
— Evening Standard
“Like Possession, it carries off the feat of being both a dazzling novel of ideas and an emotionally compelling page-turner, a historical work with a remarkably contemporary feel. One of our best writers has surpassed herself.”
— The Gazette
“The Children’s Book is a work that superlatively displays both enormous reach and tremendous grip…. Intellectual zest keeps the book sizzling with ideas. But it is alive with imaginative energy; too.”
— The Sunday Times
“An indefatigable storyteller…. never less than the real thing.”
— The Irish Times
“The sort of high concept rarefied intellectual fiction we’d expect from, well, A.S. Byatt. Possession: the next generation.”
— The Financial Times
About the Author
A.S. Byatt is internationally acclaimed as a novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her books include Possession and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. She was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 1999.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
There are simply far too many characters in the novel and the author picks them up and lays them down without any sustained development which might hold the reader's interest.
I think she bit off far too much and in the end crammed far too much into the novel - even venturing into WWI very cursorily. It all felt very rushed towards the end.
At the same time Byatt lingers lovingly over minute details of a vase or piece of sculpture which, although interesting initially, over the course of the novel becomes quite irritating.
She seems more comfortable working in miniature and much less comfortable with managing the grand sweep of the narrative structure.
She is such a master of language that I was surprised to discover repetitive use of adjectives in the same sentence. I think a good editor should have corrected some of the more obvious and annoying repetitions.
Although my review seems negative I would still recommend the novel even though it did not fully live up to my expectations. Such a pity though that Byatt crammed all this material into one novel.
There are many fascinating stories here, but because I didn't get to follow all of the stories to their end, I had the feeling that I wanted more from a 615-page book that took me three weeks to complete. Byatt is an excellent writer and The Children's Book is a better novel than most that I will read this year, but because it is good, I wanted it to be better.
Art is important to each of the three families. Prosper Cain is Special Keeper of Precious Metals at the South Kensington Museum. Benedict Fludd, Cain's friend, is a potter of volatile temperament who destroys his own work at times. Olive Wellwood writes children's stories, inspired in part by her own large family. There is a tension between the positive and negative impacts of creativity - sometimes obvious (as in Fludd's destruction of his pottery) and sometimes far more subtle (Wellwood's impact on her family). It's tempting to see parallels between the changing roles of family members (especially Benedict Fludd and Olive Wellwood) and the changing shape of the society in which they live as the creativity of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gives way to war.
At times I found the novel complicated: the intertwining of stories and the number of characters made it challenging. I did not find it an easy novel to read but it was ultimately both enriching and rewarding.
`She thought of marching forwards and retreated.'
Most recent customer reviews
Attempted but couldn't enter this world, way too many characters. Most of the book is preparing you for something that you give up waiting for.Published on May 20 2014 by HildaRose
A.S. Byatt is not the sort of author you read casually -- her prose is thick with atmosphere and symbolism, her books are full of literate and mythic references, and she does a lot... Read morePublished on April 30 2011 by EA Solinas
It has all been said, so I'll just agree with those who say there are too many characters going nowhere, too much detail about nothing and not enough story. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2011 by milkmaid