The Children’s Book
A. S. Byatt
Vintage (reprint, paperback), 2009. 896 pages. $16.95.
Like everyone else, I loved Possession. I haven’t quite gotten around to reading Byatt’s other works ( … ) but I did read The Children’s Book and loved it. I agree with the critics who thought the book was over-stuffed, but I also agree with the critics who appreciated its epic length, breadth, depth, scope.
One of my colleague’s put it best when she said, “It’s a Victorian novel!” It certainly is. Perhaps one of the reasons why The Children’s Book garnered so much attention when it came out is because it exists in the same universe as Possession. Byatt is at her best when she weaves historical details with her literary stories, and this book has no shortage of background paragraphs.
This novel is like a labyrinth. You wander in and around the maze. Sometimes there are dead-ends. Sometimes you find a secret passage way. Eventually you’ll come out the other side, but there’s no telling how long you’ve been in there.
I liked the ending, and I would have liked if the book had incorporated more WWI style poetry. Byatt has an ear for language, and it’s a delight to listen to her do her thing.