Erin H, August 30, 2013 (view all comments by Erin H)
Though very long, this Booker-shortlisted novel is a literary tapestry of imagination, mystery and history, centering around the bohemian Wellwoods in late Victorian England. The story chronicles the matriarch, a whimsical children's book author, her many children and the family friends through adventure, misfortune and tarnished reputations, from naive childhood through the devastation of World War I. Though a dense book at times, it's fantastically rewarding, engrossing and enchanting.
Jill Miller, August 3, 2012 (view all comments by Jill Miller)
I will start by confessing that I love A. S. Byatt's writing beyond all reason. I love her intricate and lucid sentences. I love her concrete, lush, physical imagery. I love her large vision of the intertwinings of us humans and our lives. The Children's Book, in particular, made me want to make art, of any kind; made me want to know more about pre-WWI Britain; made me grateful that,as a woman, I live when I live and not earlier.
Sharon Dressen, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by Sharon Dressen)
Even though it was published in 2009, "The Children's Book" by A S Byatt is the best book I read in 2011. An engrossing read, this book tells the sumptuous, darkly mysterious story of the Wellwood family and their circle of artists and friends during the Victorian era spanning through the World War 1 years. At the center is Olive Wellwood, a children's book author who writes magical, enchanting tales in separate books for each of her seven children. Dark, damaging secrets and personal struggles underly the Wellwoods' seemingly privileged, creative lives. I couldn't put this rich, lavish book down!
flamedancing, September 21, 2011 (view all comments by flamedancing)
Covering several generations of families from 1895 through WWI, the book centers around the interweavings of several families, their relationships, children, strengths, and weaknesses. Unfortunately, the book doesn't take you anywhere. You spend hours and hours following these people through their lives but there is no plot. You expect something like in "Persuasion" where there is a story that is revealed, a mystery uncovered. But, in this book there are no revelations. Although the book refers to stories that one of the characters, the mother, writes for her children, these children's stories do not develop into a larger picture and are not connected. You hardly see these stories in the last 3/4 of the novel. Up to the last page I was thinking that Byatt would pull it all together but it never happened. If you are interested in a chronology of a bunch of messed up people dealing with the turn of the centry then perhaps you will like this book better than I did.
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