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The Resource The children's book : a novel, A.S. Byatt

The children's book : a novel, A.S. Byatt

Label
The children's book : a novel
Title
The children's book
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
A.S. Byatt
Title variation
childrens book
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
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
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Library Journal Best Books, 2009.
  • James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, 2009.
Review
  • Byatt's overstuffed latest wanders from Victorian 1895 through the end of WWI, alighting on subjects as diverse as puppetry, socialism, women's suffrage and the Boer War, and suffers from an unaccountably large cast. The narrative centers on two deeply troubled families of the British artistic intelligentsia: the Fludds and the Wellwoods. Olive Wellwood, the matriarch, is an author of children's books, and their darkness hints at hidden family miseries. The Fludds' secrets are never completely exposed, but the suicidal fits of the father, a celebrated potter, and the disengaged sadness of the mother and children add up to a chilling family history. Byatt's interest in these artists lies with the pain their work indirectly causes their loved ones and the darkness their creations conceal and reveal. The other strongest thread in the story is sex; though the characters' social consciences tend toward the progressive, each of the characters' liaisons are damaging, turning high-minded talk into sinister predation. The novel's moments of magic and humanity, malignant as they may be, are too often interrupted by information dumps that show off Byatt's extensive research. Buried somewhere in here is a fine novel. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed June 8, 2009) (Publishers Weekly, vol 256, issue 23, p25)
  • /* Starred Review */ A girl places some diminutive folk she's discovered into her doll house, then is imprisoned by a giant child herself. A prince discovers that he alone has no shadow. No, these aren't plot points in this masterly new work by the author of Possession but children's stories written by one of its protagonists, Olive Wellwood. There are, or course, actual children in the book—Olive's, with blustery banker-turned-crusader husband Humphrey; the Wellwood cousins; Julian, son of a keeper at the South Kensington Museum; Philip, the wayward boy discovered living surreptitiously in the museum, whom Olive brings home to her country estate; the family of brilliant but selfish master potter Benedict Fludd, who takes in the talented Philip as an unpaid apprentice; and more. Like the children in Olive's stories, these children have their notions quietly disabused; one small instant—say, a parent's overheard comment—and life is changed forever. It's the late 1800s, with new ideas in the air—and it's all rushing toward World War I. VERDICT Pitch perfect, stately, told with breathtakingly matter-of-fact acuteness, this is another winner for Byatt. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/09.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal --Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed August 15, 2009) (Library Journal, vol 134, issue 13, p64)
  • Byatt (A Whistling Woman, 2002, etc.) encompasses the paradigm shift from Victorian to modern England in a sweeping tale of four families.The deeper subject, however, is the complex, not always benign bond that attaches children to adults. As the novel opens in 1895, Olive Wellwood seems the model New Woman: popular author of books that reinvent fairy tales for contemporary children, tolerant wife to Fabian Society stalwart Humphry, devoted mother pregnant with her seventh baby. She takes in Philip Warren, a working-class boy who longs to make art, and connects him with Benedict Fludd, a master potter whose family belongs to the Wellwoods' progressive, artistic circle. As the long, dense narrative unfolds, we see the dark side of these idealists' lives. Three of the children Olive is raising are not hers with Humphry; in another household, magnificent works of art reveal repellent acts of incest. The gothic sexual interconnections recall Bloomsbury, and Olive is clearly a gloss on E. Nesbit, but this is no mere roman à clef. Byatt's concern is the vast area where utopian visions collide with human nature. Her adult subjects, she writes, "saw, in a way that earlier generations had not, that children were people, with identities and desires and intelligences…But they saw this, so many of them, out of a desire of their own for perpetual childhood." World War I forces everyone to grow up. Only one son of this socialist set becomes a conscientious objector; the others serve and most of them die. The pace, positively stately in the novel's first half, speeds up and becomes unduly hasty in the final section. But Byatt has painted her large cast of characters so richly that we care about all of them even when their fates are summarized in a sentence. In the last chapter, the variously battered survivors reunite and dream once more: "They could make magical plays for a new generation of children."Ambitious, accomplished and intelligent in the author's vintage manner. (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2009)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
320512
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1936-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Byatt, A. S.
Dewey number
823/.914
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6052.Y2
LC item number
C48 2009
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Women authors
  • Children and adults
  • Runaway children
  • Country homes
  • Family secrets
  • World War, 1914-1918
Target audience
adult
Label
The children's book : a novel, A.S. Byatt
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
675 pages
Isbn
9780307272096
Lccn
2009016334
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 299707544
  • (OCoLC)299707544
Label
The children's book : a novel, A.S. Byatt
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
675 pages
Isbn
9780307272096
Lccn
2009016334
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 299707544
  • (OCoLC)299707544

Library Locations

    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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