The Children's Book

by A.S. Byatt | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780701183899 Global Overview for this book
Registered by quinnsmom of Hobe Sound, Florida USA on 10/5/2009
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Monday, October 5, 2009
At 600 + pages, The Children's Book is not easy to encapsulate in a short review. The action takes place between 1895 and ends in 1919. The main character is Olive Wellwood, married to Humphry, and they live a somewhat Bohemian lifestyle and espouse Fabian idealistic beliefs. They raise their children to be children -- to run free in the forest, ride bicycles, holding a totally different view than the "children are meant to be seen, not heard" mentality of the Victorian era. The Wellwoods hold Midsummer's Eve parties in which the children act in plays -- and they live a somewhat idyllic life that includes other family members and acquaintances: Olive’s sister, Violet, Humphry's brother Basil, his wife and children Griselda and Charles Wellwood, a gifted ceramicist Benedict Fludd who is locked in some kind of mental hell, Fludd's children Imogen, Pomona and Geraint, Fludd’s apprentice, Philip, Philip’s sister Elsie, and their friend Prosper Cain and his children, Florence and Julian. Olive is an author of children's fantasy stories, obviously born out of her life as a child, and besides writing for the general public, Olive writes a book for each of her children which grow as her children grow. Life seems perfect, but underneath there are secrets that are revealed and secrets that are kept, some of which lead this new generation to question who they are and where they are going, and to question their parents' expectations of them. It is also a novel in which the author brings vividly to life the social and political changes of the period and where the characters find themselves within the scope of the events and the isms of the time.

The Children's Book is very well written and it is a book you will be thinking about long after you've finished it. The main characters are well drawn. The sense of place and time stands out as a character of its own as history plays itself out and events occur quickly and on a grand scale. The author's ability to capture this small slice of time and the winds of change (and at the end, the horrors of trench warfare) is what makes this book an incredible read.

Personally, I liked this book and was rather caught up throughout the story, but I did feel that the end was a bit rushed, as if Byatt had to come up with an ending rather quickly. However, I would definitely recommend the book to people interested not only in excellent writing, but in Britain from the end of the Victorian period through the end of WWI. Overall, a fine reading experience.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.