Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

The Children's BookThe Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite a read and I'm glad I took my time. It gave me time to think about things and take more in, reread a little if I wanted. Beginning this, I didn't love it, thought maybe I would put it aside for something else. But I'm glad I kept going. I loved Byatt's world, it is easy to see she had done a lot of research of the time period, (no small feat when one looks at the 20 year - give or take - span it's set in). But you could really get a sense of the time, along with the day to day workings, the food, activities, dress, etc. that the characters lived in. And there was a large cast of characters. And I think I can say, for the majority, the main adult characters, left a lot to be desired. I dislike a good few of them, the men in particular. I wasn't sure if this was what Byatt was aiming for but I would've happily boxed Humprey Welwood around the ears, Prosper Cain would've got a smack too, Benedict Flood was a sandwich short of a picnic and don't get me started on Herbert Methley. Him I would like to physically hurt!! I also was frequently frustrated by Olive, Mrs. Flood, Marion and to a lesser extend Pheobe Methley.  I felt that the adult characters were terribly selfish and this impacts quiet negatively on their children. I did enjoy the children's adventures and many friendships. I liked that many of the girls were quite independent and free thinking, which for the time was relatively modern. This ends at the close of WW1 and for these characters, as it was in real life, it's devastating. Much of their world has changed. I really enjoyed the stories that were interwoven into the story, these were mostly the individual stories that she wrote for each of her children. Tom, who is her eldest son and who is her favourite child is the one with the most developed story and it's through this tale that a number of major events happen. I don't want to go into them too much as they are spoilers, but in a prime example of the selfishness of the adults, in this case Olive, the story is uses as a means of betrayal that has devastating effects, that are long reaching on the Welwood family.  I  enjoyed the children's book, it made me want to discover more about the time period and more about the children.

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