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The Children's Book (2009)

por A. S. Byatt

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaDiscussões / Menções
3,5111992,729 (3.81)1 / 654
When Olive Wellwood's oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum--a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive's magical tales--she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends--a world that conceals more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined and that will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces.… (mais)
  1. 100
    War and Peace por Leo Tolstoy (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: The more I read of The Children's Book, the more it reminded me of War and Peace - the same juxtaposition of small-scale, human dramas against the sweep of history, and the same knack for introducing characters as children who are recognisably the same people as the adults at the end of the book.… (mais)
  2. 80
    Atonement por Ian McEwan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 81
    The Forgotten Garden por Kate Morton (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: Similar in time frame to The Children's Book, but with a much more satisfactory central mystery and ending. Also contains a fairy-tale authoress and several inserted "tales".
  4. 10
    Little, Big por John Crowley (Crypto-Willobie)
  5. 10
    Life After Life por Kate Atkinson (kiwiflowa)
  6. 10
    Sugar and Other Stories por A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: The genesis of "The Children's Book" can be seen in the short story, "The Changeling".
  7. 00
    The Lake House por Kate Morton (kethorn23)
  8. 00
    Tempest-Tost por Robertson Davies (Cecilturtle)
  9. 00
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell por Susanna Clarke (Crypto-Willobie)
  10. 00
    The Chemistry of Tears por Peter Carey (JoEnglish)
  11. 24
    Wolf Hall por Hilary Mantel (kidzdoc)
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Inglês (186)  Holandês (4)  Italiano (2)  Espanhol (2)  Norueguês (1)  Francês (1)  Letão (1)  Alemão (1)  Todas as línguas (198)
Mostrando 1-5 de 198 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A history lesson about Victorian & Edwardian England, made palatable by richly drawn characters. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
A tremendously ambitious novel that charts the lives of five interconnected families and friends from 1895: the late Victorian period to George V and the end of the first world war. The families are made up of many artistic, creative characters who in the main have enough money to indulge their talents or provide support for other artists: certainly families that would find it natural to send their children to a public school and university. They are by and large progressive in their politics with members indulging themselves in Fabian circles and the suffragette movement. Their left of centre social views and sexual mores pushes against the boundaries of late Victorian Society. The central character at the start of the book is Olive Wellwood and her four children (more are to follow) married to a successful Banker. She makes her own living writing children's books based on her own children characters and story telling

It is ambitious because we follow the character development of more than thirty people as well as a contextual history of the life and times through which they lived. I do not think that I have read a novel (just over 600 pages) that manages this so well. The overall theme is that of a bildungsroman of all these children and charts their loss of innocence. The central idea of children living their lives in a sort of story book innocence is developed together with an evolution of a more sinister political situation, that will lead to the horrors of the first world war. Olive's influence over her family becomes less evident as the children grow and her stories cease to be relevant as the world situation impinges on the families. This theme is brilliantly developed by Byatt. The bildungsroman is most evident through the female characters. Largely, they grow and develop while their male counterparts either cannot cope or become stunted or disarranged. The adult male characters are largely predatory and they continue to be so, despite their belief in their own worth and progress: the male children fare a little better

Nothing but praise then for a book that achieves much that it sets out to do and yet I could not really warm to the reading experience. Personally I had some issues: It is too long, the contextual details become so dense that the reader can lose sight of the story. The attempt to manage the development of so many characters, all at the same time becomes exhausting. The family members are necessarily relegated to bit parts, they are walk on players at the many gatherings; they are moved about on a sort of chessboard by the omnipresent author: for example at a New Forest holiday camp; no less than eighteen characters arrive in small groups, all in the space of one breathless paragraph. The reader has met all of these people before, because the author has given them individual stories and we have some knowledge of their characters and their family connections, but they tend to clutter up the storyline, it is as though Byatt cannot bring herself to leave anybody out. (three quarters of the way through the novel when a typically large group of characters were gathering round the firing up of a kiln I would have been happy to see it exploding carrying away many of them with it). I felt also that the novel curiously; either has no centre or if it does, that centre is continually shifting: too much is attempted, it is too busy, perhaps it needed several volumes for Byatt to do justice to her vision.

I admire Byatt's achievement and certainly parts of the novel really did grab me and then I wondered why I had not enjoyed other parts so much. I have come to the conclusion that I liked the individual episodes where Byatt focused on one character or a small group of characters and developed her story line in more detail. There are many examples of these: Tom Wellwood's experience at a public school, Dorothy Wellwood's search for her father in Germany and Imogen's romance with Prosper Cain. It was the bringing of all these stories together that I found forced. I found the mini history lesson of the suffragette movement and the lead up to the start of the first world war evocative. Much to admire, but for me not so much to enjoy and so 3.5 stars. ( )
2 vote baswood | May 15, 2021 |
"Harm can come about without will or action. But will and action can avert harm."

The novel opens in 1895 and revolves around the Wellwood family, led by children’s authoress Olive Wellwood. Olive’s eldest son Tom finds a runaway,Philip Warren, hiding in the cellars of the ‘South Kensington Museum’(later to become the V&A). Philip wants to better himself so Tom takes pity on him and takes him home with him.

What initially appears to be a simple Victorian rags-to-riches tale is soon altered it becomes apparent that not everything is what it appears to be. Olive Wellwood lives with her husband Humphrey and rules over a nest of children like a Mother Hen, aided by her younger sister Violet. The Wellwood children lead apparently idyllic lives and visiting adults are impressed by how much time their mother gives them. Olive starts a story for each separate child when they are born, adding to it as they grow up, and are designed to be without ending. However, there are dark cracks in the Wellwood household. Humphrey is unfaithful and there are questions over the children's parentage.

Philip is taken on as an apprentice by a local potter, moving in with with that family. But this too is a family riven with secrets and one ruled over by a genius but unstable patriarch.

The story spans some twenty-four years engulfing WWI along the way, it features a wide group of characters many of whom come to a sticky end in the mud of Flanders. A number of the popular authors of the day get a name-check and we are given a potted history of the Fabian Society along the way.

But it is also a book with issues. The large cast of characters makes the plot feel unwieldy,with so many fates to arrange the author seemed to struggle to move the plot along . Many of the characters, especially the children, are deeply flawed whilst Olive and Humphrey come across as selfish, shallow and generally unpleasant people which maybe excuses their offspring. In fact, with the probable exclusion of Philip and his sister Elsie, I found none of the characters particularly likeable or believable for that matter.

Given that this book was Shortlisted for the Booker Prize but ultimately failed to win to prize is perhaps no real surprise. There are some good elements to this story, the Dorothy part is interesting and thought provoking as she rejects conformity to seek out her own destiny, and Griselda and Florence start to wonder whether they will have to choose between thinking or motherhood. But once again I think others have asked this question far better. There are lot of lengthy passages concerning Victorian family structure that could have been safely edited out.

Byatt can certainly write but I feel that she just tried to be far too clever here. The book seems to fall between the cracks of two genres, historical fiction and fairytale but fails to really fulfil either successfully, as if the author herself got caught in two minds. The Children’s Book is an interesting book with elements that could have made two very good novels but as a whole didn't really work for me. ( )
  PilgrimJess | May 2, 2021 |
This book is a literary historical fiction set in England prior to and including WW1. It also is an epic family saga, exploration of art, writing, fairy tales as well as a political novel. So much is covered. Overall I enjoyed the story. My criticism is of the amount of sexualized content. I think this part was overdone and could have been cut back a great deal and still got the message across. It was enjoyable exploration of art and pottery. The political content was of Fabian society, anarchy, democratic socialism. The sexual content included sexualized art to point of gross so that it had to be locked and hidden, adultery, incest, rape and other areas as well. Really there is more that was included in this novel than left out. The time period of writing included Barre's Peter Pan. Oscar Wilde is mentioned and other notables. Overall a good work of literature. With so many hard subjects, it is hard to use the word enjoyable. It was engaging.
  Kristelh | Apr 20, 2021 |
This book covered so many subjects it is hard to describe succinctly.
Fairy tales, Women's Suffrage, Socialism, Arts and Crafts movement, sexual liberation (?), World War I... and more.

The only part I didn't get was Tom's real life story. Very vague and unsatisfying.

But overall very interesting and engaging book. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 198 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
The novel has a tendency to sprawl, with too many characters and too much to say. Yet Byatt takes tender care with the reader. She is a careful guide, and though this entry is at times a lot to process, it’s a worthwhile journey.
adicionada por WeeklyAlibi | editarWeekly Alibi, Erin Adair-Hodges (Dec 31, 2009)
While Byatt’s engagement with the period’s over­lapping circles of artists and reformers is serious and deep, so much is stuffed into “The Children’s Book” that it can be hard to see the magic forest for all the historical lumber — let alone the light at the end of the narrative tunnel. The action is sometimes cut off at awkward moments by ponderous newsreel-style voice-over or potted lectures in cultural history. Startling revelations are dropped in almost nonchalantly and not picked up again until dozens or even hundreds of pages later. Byatt’s coda on the Great War, dispatched in scarcely more pages than the Exposition Universelle, is devastating in its restraint. But too often readers may feel as if they’re marooned in the back galleries of a museum with a frighteningly energetic docent.
Byatt’s characters are themselves her dutiful puppets, always squeezed and shaped for available meaning. The Children’s Book has a cumulative energy and intelligence, and the unavoidable scythe of the Great War brings its own power to the narration, but nowhere in its hundreds of pages is there a single moment like the Countess Rostova’s free and mysterious irritation.
adicionada por jburlinson | editarLondon Review of Books, James Wood (sítio Web pago) (Oct 8, 2009)
As in her Booker Prize–winning novel, Possession, here Byatt has constructed a complete and complex world, a gorgeous bolt of fiction, in this case pinned to British events and characters from the 1870s to the end of the Great War...the magic is in the way Byatt suffuses her novel with details, from the shimmery sets of a marionette show to clay mixtures and pottery glazes.
adicionada por Shortride | editarThe Atlantic (Oct 1, 2009)
It begins with the discovery of a boy hiding in a museum.

The time is 1895, the boy is Philip Warren, and the museum is the precursor to the Victoria & Albert: the South Kensington Museum. And, oh, yes –there’s a remarkable piece of art that the boy is besotted with — the Gloucester Candlestick. However, while this may make many children’s book mavens think immediately of E. L. Konigsburg’s classical story for children, let me say straight out — A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book is a book for grown-ups. It is emphatically not a children’s book although it is about children, about books, about art, about the writing of children’s books, about the telling of children’s stories, about the clash between life and art, and about a whole lot more. A saga of a book teeming with complex characters, fascinating settings, intellectual provocations, and erudite prose, it gets under your skin as you get deeper and deeper into it and won’t let you go even after you reach the last page....

» Adicionar outros autores (10 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Byatt, A. S.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Juva, KerstiTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
McKenzie, NicoletteNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Parker, StephenDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Two boys stood in the Prince Consort Gallery, and looked down on a third. It was June 19th, 1895.
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"So dangerous, don't you think, giving romantic names to little scraps who may grow up as plain as doorposts."
She didn't like to be talked about. Equally, she didn't like NOT to be talked about, when the high-minded chatter rushed on as though she wasn't there. There was no pleasing her, in fact. She had the grace, even at eleven, to know there was no pleasing her. She thought a lot, analytically, about other people's feelings, and had only just begun to realise that this was not usual, and not reciprocated.
She was not really a playwright. The auditions taught her that. A true playwright makes up people who can be inhabited by actors. A storyteller makes shadow people in the head, autonomous and complete.
She had the feeling writers often have when told perfect tales for fictions, that there was too much fact, too little space for the necessary insertion of inventions, which would appear to be lies.
Olive was sometimes frightened by the relentlessly busy inventiveness of her brain. It was good and consoling that it earned money, real bankable cheques in real envelopes. That anchored it in the real world. And the real world spouted stories wherever she looked at it.
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When Olive Wellwood's oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum--a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive's magical tales--she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends--a world that conceals more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined and that will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces.

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