Mary Moore, September 14, 2007 (view all comments by Mary Moore)
A fascinating, moving book with characters you're glad aren't your friends; but you can't help being fascinated by. Upper middle-class and bewildered by the world not being simply handed to them, they approach thirty almost desperate for some sign they're as important and gifted as they believe.
The first post 9/11 novel that has truly gripped me. Highly recommended.
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Adam, July 13, 2007 (view all comments by Adam)
Fantastic. A little slow to start, but, as you get to know the characters intimately and the book picks up steam, it becomes impossible to put down. The plot is relatively simple, and, while it's easy to guess where many of the stories are headed (with exceptions), it's fascinating to watch the thoughts and actions of the characters react and change as the book rumbles toward its inevitable end.
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Joan Bregger, May 31, 2007 (view all comments by Joan Bregger)
Dense, but clear, prose describes the angst of three thirtyish New Yorkers--Marina, the dilletante daughter of a pundit; Danielle, a documentary film producer; and Julius, a caustic film reviewer. All are casting about for more meaning--or better living conditions--and further complications appear by way of journalist Ludo, Marina's father Murray, and Marina's young, confused cousin, Frederick.
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Bookwomyn, January 28, 2007 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
What a delightful, intriguing romp of a book! The characters are stand-alone but when you put them all together they sizzle. This extended family, friends and friends of friends created an intrigue that sucked me in from the first chapter and kept my attention to the end - never wavering. I didn't want it to end but couldn't wait to finish.
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Alfred A. Knopf -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Marina Thwaite, Danielle Minkoff and Julian Clarke were buddies at Brown, certain that they would soon do something important in the world. But as all near 30, Danielle is struggling as a TV documentary maker, and Julius is barely surviving financially as a freelance critic. Marina, the startlingly beautiful daughter of celebrated social activist, journalist and hob-nobber Murray Thwaite, is living with her parents on the Upper West Side, unable to finish her book — titled The Emperor's Children Have No Clothes (on how changing fashions in children's clothes mirror changes in society). Two arrivals upset the group stasis: Ludovic, a fiercely ambitious Aussie who woos Marina to gain entrée into society (meanwhile planning to destroy Murray's reputation), and Murray's nephew, Frederick 'Bootie' Tubb, an immature, idealistic college dropout and autodidact who is determined to live the life of a New York intellectual. The group orbits around the post-September 11 city with disconcerting entitlement — and around Murray, who is, in a sense, the emperor. Messud, in her fourth novel, remains wickedly observant of pretensions — intellectual, sexual, class and gender. Her writing is so fluid, and her plot so cleverly constructed, that events seem inevitable, yet the narrative is ultimately surprising and masterful as a contemporary comedy of manners." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Elizabeth Judd, The Atlantic Monthly,
"[A] riveting comedy of manners....Gradually, Messud...converts academic hairsplitting into a matter of larger consequence, extracting considerable suspense from the young cultural pretenders' attempts to topple the old guard and wrest an erotic prize." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review A Day"
"We've all caught glimpses of them before, but Claire Messud has captured and pinned under glass members of a striking subspecies of the modern age: the smart, sophisticated, anxious young people who think of themselves as the cultural elite....If you're one of them or if you can't resist the delicious pleasure of pitying them, you'll relish every page of The Emperor's Children....The most remarkable quality of Messud's writing may be its uncanny blend of maturity and mirth. Somehow, she can stand in that chilly wind blowing on us all and laugh." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review
by Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review),
"Messud deftly paints the neurotic uncertainties of people who know they're privileged and feel sorry for themselves anyway; she makes her characters human....Intelligent, evocative and unsparing."
by Library Journal,
"Messud's comedy of manners is extremely well written and features characters that come alive....This wonderful read is an insightful look at our time and the decisions people make. Highly recommended."
"Messud's ambitious, glamorous, and gutsy new novel, The Emperor's Children, is a leap forward, a marvel of bold momentum and kinetic imagination."
by Meghan O'Rourke, The New York Times Book Review,
"Claire Messud is a novelist of unnerving talent....The Emperor's Children is a masterly comedy of manners — an astute and poignant evocation of hobnobbing glitterati in the months before and immediately following Sept. 11."
by Christian Science Monitor,
"Absorbingly intelligent....[Messud] writing is so sure-handed that she doesn't even stumble on the hurdle of the Sept. 11 attacks...and her exploration of entitlement is both witty and astute."
by Wall Street Journal,
"Ms. Messud has composed a comedy of manners, a satire on journalism and misplaced ambition, and a probing, sometimes poignant, drama about confused urban lives."
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"The novel surprises in so many ways. Most notably is the way that the story gets more and more interesting as it progresses. By the final chapters it becomes a page-turner, something rarely found in novels without detectives or CIA agents lurking about."
"If occasionally the reader feels suffocated inside the Thwaites' privileged bubble, the pleasures of Messud's prose are enlivening....You will not learn how to live from reading The Emperor's Children, but you will recognize the pulse of real life on every page."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"[T]he novel, for all its evident flaws...demonstrates Ms. Messud's growing range as a writer, her ability to shift gears effortlessly between the comic and the tragic, the satiric and the humane."
"A stinging portrait of life among Manhattan’s junior glitterati, [including] three best friends [who], a decade after they met at Brown, are finding it hard to be 30. . . . Messud deftly paints the neurotic uncertainties of people who know they're privileged and feel sorry for themselves anyway; she makes her characters human . . . Intelligent, evocative and unsparing." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A magnificent novel of fate and fortune — of love and friendship, family and secrets, of striving and glamour, disaster and promise — this is a tour de force that brings to life a city, a generation, and living in the moment.
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