The Children’s Book – A S Byatt


Loosely based on the life of E Nesbit, The Children’s Book follows the lives of several inter-related families from 1895 through WWI.

❚ “The Wellwood family consists of Olive, Humphrey, Olive’s sister Violet, and many children. They are Fabians, living in a world amongst artists, writers, and craftspeople, establishing new ways to express art and live an artful life.

“The central character Olive is a writer of children’s literature, loosely based on children’s writer E Nesbit. She supports her large family with her writing, The title of the book refers to the many children in the book, all of whom grow up within the pages. As the years go by, they attempt to define their place in life, whether via fulfilment, evasion or manipulation of opportunities. With World War I looming, survival becomes paramount no matter how each character tackles life.

“Also amongst the pages are insights into the creative processes required to succeed at artistry, plus historical context of arts and politics between the 19th and 20th centuries.

“There are many reasons why this book needed to be 675 pages!”

Maybe all steps into the future drew strength from a searching gaze into the deep past.

❚ “This is an epic read, and there is so much packed into it. Fantastic characters, damning relationships based on fact, familial secrets galore, beautiful sensory locations and the horrors of war, too. Highly detailed so as to instil the plot lines into your mind like a memory. I loved immersing myself into this book.” – Rachel

❚ “Long winded and complex with way too much descriptive narrative. The alarmingly large number of characters made the story hard to follow at times. It was a blur and although I enjoyed parts I would have great trouble finding motivation to re-read which I suspect is a necessary task for me to digest the story properly.” – Jo

Published 2009
Chatto & Windus
675 pages

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