Book Review: The Children’s Book

floral skirt trench coat heeled loafers by 14 shades of grey

OK, disclaimer: I never, ever skim any book. I may put a book down and pick it up a couple of weeks later, but I don’t skim – heck, I read Twilight cover to cover to see what the fuss was about (I did see what the fuss was about, and I disagreed.) This one, though, I had to skim, and it’s nowhere near the densest book I’ve read. It’s just… boring. In my defense, I’m going to translate it anyway, so when I got to the last 100 pages I just skimmed to see what happens to each character.

floral skirt red sweater by 14 shades of greyfloral skirt trench coat heeled loafers by 14 shades of grey

Anyway, “The Children’s Book”, by A.S. Byatt, is about several families in Edwardian England who move in a circle of liberal artists and writers, and the many secrets and tragedies that connect them. The title refers to a book that the main character, a writer of children fantasy loosely based on E. Nesbitt, writes for each of her children.

Edwardian era is one of my favorites, the characters are fascinating, so what’s the problem? Mainly, I think the book is more to showcase the author’s intensive research of the period rather than to tell an actual story. There are chapters after chapters detailing social, political, and artistic movements of the time, and I found myself asking “What does this have to do with anything?” There is not enough time to get to know any of the characters. I feel like the author only remembered to check in with those characters from time to time before getting back to her historical research. The parts that I’m interested in, the parts about the damage that the main character’s children suffer because of her focus on her art (she’s not exactly a neglectful mother, but she’s too busy making up stories about her children to see what is really going on with them), are really rushed, and the ending is just… there.

It’s too bad that every time I try reading a literature book (as opposed to my usual genre fictions of sci-fi and fantasy), I always end up disappointed. Seriously, do you guys have any recommendation? I’d like to expand my literary horizon a bit, but I don’t know where to begin.

floral skirt red sweater heeled loafers by 14 shades of greyfloral skirt heeled loafers by 14 shades of grey

I tried to recreate an Edwardian look with my outfit, though my skirt is too full to be Edwardian. Still, there are a lot of descriptions of Liberty gown and William Morris fabric in the book, so I think the skirt works too.

floral skirt trench coat by 14 shades of greyfloral skirt red sweater by 14 shades of grey

Sweater: Gap (thrifted), Skirt: vintage, Tights: Target, Shoes: Payless, Coat: Modcloth

8 Comments on “Book Review: The Children’s Book”

  1. Thank you so much for linking up and I LOVE that skirt. This entire outfit is very pretty.

    Hmm. Literature. Have you read any Barbara Kingsolver? She’s one of my favorites, especially The Poisonwood Bible. I’m also a huge fan of the book, A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry (I think that’s the author).

  2. This is so pretty and feminine! I love the full skirt and the gorgeous coat.

  3. Paula says:

    I confess I skim books, usually right after getting them, just to get a sense of it.

    I loved how in the 1st picture we can only see the flowers in the skirt!

  4. Bekka says:

    What a gorgeous skirt! I’m relieved to know it wasn’t just me re: “The Children’s Book.” It should have been right up my alley, and yet…

    One of the few books I’ve never finished.

  5. Wow, what a spectacularly beautiful skirt!

    I second Gracey’s Barbara Kingsolver recommendation (especially The Poisonwood Bible), and would add The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and White Oleander by Janet Fitch to the list.

  6. Lovely! Love the look of the coat belted over the longer skirt. 🙂

    I recently finished Longbourne by Jo Baker, a literary reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, from the perspective of a housemaid. I would recommend it!

  7. heidi says:

    gorgeous skirt! and i was so interested to read your review of this book, as i have several of as byatt’s books. this is one i began but did not finish before setting it aside from another book, which makes me feel regretful as i’m not sure if i will come back to it. from what i remember, i had the same impressions you share here of another one of her books.

  8. […] currently translating A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, and since this book is mentioned as the favorite of some of the characters’, I decided to […]

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