Monday, 3 January 2011

2011 books I have loved - The Children's Book by AS Byatt

Reading novels has always been a massive part of my life and who I am. I don't remember not being able to read and was known as a Bookworm throughout my childhood. I went on to study a degree in English Literature - receiving a grant for reading books - fantastic!. Now, I always have a novel on the go, and I cannot think of falling asleep before reading at least a few pages.

However this part of me has not yet made much of an appearance on my blog. In 2011, therefore, I have decided to make a regular feature of reviewing books I read and enjoy. If you feel like taking my advice and reading them too, I would love to get some follow-up feedback as to what you thought. If you don't read them, that's fine too.

My first review of the new year is 'The Children's Book' by AS Byatt. I discovered the literary genius of AS Byatt 20 years ago at college when I read 'Possession', but it's several years since she has produced anything new so when I saw this in the bookshop (when I was meant to be Christmas shopping) I couldn't resist treating myself. 

I was not disappointed. Rich, multi-layered, intelligent, everything I admire her for.  The story begins in the late-nineteeth century in South Kensington museum as 2 boys spy on another sketching one of the exhibits. The lives of  Julian, Tom and  Philip and their very different families become deeply interwoven and the novel follows them as they grow up. The personal romance and tragedy is mirrored by the political situation as they become involved in Fabian socialism, the suffragist movement and the tragedy of the 1st World War.

The finely woven personal saga and uncompromising political commentary alone would make this a fine book. There is, however, a third layer; the 'Children's Book' of the title. Tom's mother is a writer and an expert on fairy tales who writes 8 never-ending stories or each of her 8 children. Tom's becomes increasingly dark and surreal as he grows into adulthood and provides an insight into his imagination and motivation.

I became throughly immersed in the lives of these characters whilst still being able to admire the breadth and depth of Byatt's descriptive writing. This is a novel well worth reading.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Please feel free to leave me any comments, positive or negative, but don't blame me if it turns out to be not your cup of tea!

1 comment:

humel said...

That sounds interesting, thanks for the recommendation :-) I love to read but I don't tend to review the books on my blog; I do like to read other people's reviews though. Thanks for sharing! xx