Customer Reviews for

The Children's Book

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Eerie Coterie's Fall 2009 "Dark Pages" Selection

The Eerie Coterie's first nominated "Dark Pages" selection is one of the best books of 2009. As our fall Conversation Group choice you are in for one breathtaking ride. The Children's Book is a Victorian novel encompassed by the Wellwoods and the Fludds, two families ...
The Eerie Coterie's first nominated "Dark Pages" selection is one of the best books of 2009. As our fall Conversation Group choice you are in for one breathtaking ride. The Children's Book is a Victorian novel encompassed by the Wellwoods and the Fludds, two families of unending mystery. Olive Wellwood is a children's book writer and creates a different story for each of her own children. A.S. Byatt is one of those rare writers who can tackle themes buffered by fairy tales, supernatural elements, mythology and magic and give you a tale so beautifully entwined with real life moments that it always comes out believable. The Eerie Coterie is proud to have THE CHILDREN'S BOOK by A.S. Byatt be our Fall 2009 featured title. The book jacket alone is worth it for you to pick up.

posted by TheEerieCoterie on October 6, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A disappointed reader

I was extremely disappointed with this book. It evoked a sense of frustration and confusion. The author introduces a few characters and I honestly don't think there was a main character. For a minute I thought Olive might be the heroine of the story but her story went n...
I was extremely disappointed with this book. It evoked a sense of frustration and confusion. The author introduces a few characters and I honestly don't think there was a main character. For a minute I thought Olive might be the heroine of the story but her story went nowhere. I don't mind the fact that there were so many characters, but I do mind that each character wasn't developed. I didn't fall in love or care deeply about any of them, since the author didn't talk in depth about any of them. She introduced them to me, gave me a glance into their lives, but I didn't feel any connection with any of them, well except for one character who is Tom but he was short lived. The ending was sad, yes, I didn't feel sad or hurt or sympathy or any feeling of loss, I didn't know any of the characters to care so much about what happened to any of them , and I was very very happy that the book was over and done with.

posted by DiniOv on October 28, 2009

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    The Children┬┐s Book is the fifth stand-alone novel my British au

    The Children’s Book is the fifth stand-alone novel my British author, Antonia S. Byatt. This novel spans about a quarter of a century, starting in 1895, and tells the story of children’s author, Olive Wellwood, her extended family, friends and acquaintances. Against a backdrop of Victorian, then Edwardian then World War One England, Byatt creates a dynasty that is exposed to Imperialists, Socialists, Fabians, Malthusians, Theosophists, and revolutionaries. Jung, Freud, Oscar Wilde, H.G.Wells, Lalique, women’s suffrage, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Grande Exposition in Paris all play their part. This family is involved, not just in children’s literature, but also pottery, jewellery making, puppeteering, fairy mythology, plays and Art and Craft Summer Camps. Byatt intersperses the narrative with Olive’s fiction and, later, poetry by one of the children. As the children of the various families grow and develop, they come to realise that the adults they trust and rely on are not what they seem, and secrets are revealed that change lives. Adultery is rife in this novel, as are births where parentage is suspect; suicides and war deaths take their toll too. Byatt’s descriptions are highly evocative: pottery, puppets and nature are almost tangible. The Lalique brooch on the cover of this edition presages the sumptuous work within. A magical read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2012

    This book takes you on a great journey!

    This book took me a very long time to read because it is not very gripping. At the same time everytime I went to read The Children's Book I was excited to see what was coming next. Throughout the entire book the reader gets to watch a great variety of people go through life and learn many different lessons and I personally really enjoyed it. I am happy to read any book that can take the reader through the whole spectrum of emotions from happiness to anger and everything in between, and this book definitely does just that. The book starts off a bit slow but once the reader gets to know the characters and connect with some the story becomes really a great read. I definitely recommend The Children's Book to any reader.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    This book takes you on a great journey!

    This book took me a very long time to read because it is not very gripping. At the same time everytime I went to read The Children's Book I was excited to see what was coming next. Throughout the entire book the reader gets to watch a great variety of people go through life and learn many different lessons and I personally really enjoyed it. I am happy to read any book that can take the reader through the whole spectrum of emotions from happiness to anger and everything in between, and this book definitely does just that. The book starts off a bit slow but once the reader gets to know the characters and connect with some the story becomes really a great read. I definitely recommend The Children's Book to any reader.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A backward glance at an earlier time

    Reading The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt is a little like opening a long-abandoned toy cupboard and finding childhood thoughts and feelings inside, tattered and worn and well-remembered, rather than the playthings one might have expected. We recognize Byatt as masterful even as she begins, for in the first chapter one feels the power of her rich imagination: a young runaway is found sketching designs from originals deep within the bowels of an art museum during turn-of-the-19th-century London. The scurry of the 21st century is nowhere apparent as the author slowly unfolds a complicated set, and peoples it with many characters. This is a book one must slow down to appreciate.

    Byatt might liken her novel to the work of a potter--she writes that the air inside a pot is part of the experience of the pot, and the form and glaze on a pot cannot alone capture the pot's essence. Perhaps the thoughts and feelings that a book inspires is what makes a novel art more than simply words alone. Her work is like a jeweler's art--intricate and complicated and filled with symbolism. A novel is like a dramatist's set, where the inclusion of the smallest detail focuses our attention, registers its importance, and sends us thinking in a certain direction.

    I had a favorite character, Philip, and at first waited impatiently for him to show again, and when he did, I wanted him to stay. A good book could have been written about just him, the way he thought, his art, and how he made his way in the world. One could have said that of any of the many characters in the book, young and old. Byatt's skill was in revealing believable passions, scalding faults, and the real terrors the world holds for our fragile hopes. We see early 20th century England and its inhabitants in the midst of massive social and political change and realize the power and limitations of human intervention. When we close the book we feel closer in many ways to these paper people than to today's world hurtling past us too fast to comprehend.

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