Monday, 7 September 2009

The Children's Book by A S Byatt

This is a rich book that deserves you linger over every word. It starts in 1895 when 2 boys discover a third less fortunate boy living in the basement regions of the newly developing Victoria and Albert Museum. The story develops as we follow the familes and the connections between these 3 boys, their own and their adoptive families and the way the developing cultural, social and political scene develops and impacts on their worlds and their lives, culminating in the devastation of the first world war.

You need reading stamina to tackle this story but the research and imagination that has gone into it sits lightly in this enthralling but sad mammoth novel. The title derives from one of the main characters - Olive Wellwood, a children's author - who writes imaginative tales that reflect and inspire her children in their own specially constructed books - kept on a shelf in the library at their home. These are constantly added to and rewrittten over the period of the novel - with varying results.

This is a book that you want to continue reading but that you have to read quite slowly so as to savour the experiencce. Read it now!

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