|The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt|
And oh! What's with all this fascination on sex?
Set during the period spanning the final years of the 20th century to the early 21st eventually leading to World War I, The Children's Book by Booker Prize-winning author, A.S. Byatt is, in my opinion, one unusual read. Central to the tale is the story of Olive Wellwood, a famous writer of children's stories, who lives in a world all her own. There's also the stories of her children (all 7 of them, of which focus is given to the 2 eldest -- Tom and Dorothy.)
Their stories are mixed in with a whole lot of other characters (such as family friends and relatives), their lives and problems of which mashes in with their own. (Confused much? Read the whole summary here at Amazon.com)
In a nutshell, the book has no single, identifiable plot nor a main protagonist. It is a mesh of all these characters and their lives during that era, hence, I have to admit, this book is quite difficult to review.
Looking at it as a study on English life in the Victorian period leading up to the 1st World War then, I guess, this book has definitely done its part. It clearly details life in the olden days -- their philosophies, the struggles and the everyday nuances of the characters' existences. It sure beats reading a non-fiction novel that just yammers on and on about this era. With The Children's Book, it's as if you're part of the action.
However, the usual readers of fiction works will, at times, feel frustrated, most especially when you realize that (SPOILER ALERT!) the book ends with a number of unanswered questions (Believe me, I know, as I almost chucked my copy out the window upon reaching the last page.)
Aside from that, I also found it quite confusing that most of the characters had a huge fascination with sex. It is not explicitly mentioned in the chapters, mind you, but is told in a way that makes it sound like a huge portion of their everyday thoughts are centered around it.
Would I recommend it? If you're more interested in learning about a personal detailling of life in the Victorian era, then yes. This is a good read. But if you're more of a fiction fan with a craving for resolved conflicts, then no. Better move on to another title.