rosalind, July 17, 2008 (view all comments by rosalind)
My bookgroup read this, 9 out of ten of us did not like the book, though acknowledging the literary skill of the author. None of the characters were likable, and were not well formulated. The one person who liked it said that it was "like pulp fiction (genre, not the movie)" and a fun read.
Compare it to Zaidy Smith's "On Beauty" ( well there isn't any positive comparison ) a book with well developed characters, plenty of literary illusions, a jab at the academic world,and set in the eastern seaboard.
Our group is 60+ in age. Are the positive comments coming from younger people?
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anastasiabutt, November 23, 2007 (view all comments by anastasiabutt)
This is a gorgeous book about priviledged youth in NY basically just trying to live their lives, but messing them up with quite a bit of misguided love, adultery, art, and overall stupidity. This book is incredibly well written and shows that despite the priviledge people with money grow up with, it does not make them any better at making ggod decisions and coping with life. The characters are vulnerable and flawed, and the setting is lush and imaginitive.
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Edward, April 2, 2007 (view all comments by Edward)
A gorgeously woven tale of three very different people all patched and sewed together.
Her prose is remarkable-- one is sunk as soon as one sets sail on her remarkable journey.
I am reading this with my English Masters class and the students are in awe. They can't put it down. It's a hefty little book filled with a copious vocabulary.
One of my students asked me, "Why can't we read stuff this good all of the time?"
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Vintage Books USA -
Absolutely brilliant. The best novel I've read in months, if not years, The Emperor's Children has left me powerfully moved; Claire Messud's knowledge of the human psyche is uncanny, and her characters became, in one afternoon, more important to me than the friend who I made wait on my couch while I finished the book. Gorgeously written, painfully honest, and, often enough, funny as hell, The Emperor's Children is a classical novel which perfectly depicts modern times, describing what humanity looks like up close with a brutal yet sympathetic clarity.
"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)
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."
The Emperors Children is a richly drawn, brilliantly observed novel of fate and fortune — about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way — and not — in New York City. In thistour de force, the celebrated author Claire Messud brings to life a city, a generation, and the way we live in this moment.
A magnificent novel of fate and fortune — of love and friendship, family and secrets, of striving and glamor, disaster and promise — this is a tour de force that brings to life a city, a generation, and living in the moment.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.