Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Children's Book Is No Children's Book

I started reading this book, The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, before we left for Kentucky and I finished it at the end of our holiday. It was a LOT of reading and, in my opinion, tough slugging.

There were some story lines that really interested me but there were sometimes lengthy gaps of less interesting minutia separating them. Perhaps I didn't fully appreciate the great detail Byatt goes into at times. It's not that I don't like detail but I found this a little much and it didn't always provide the benefit of "teaching me something", which I do usually like.

I also got a little annoyed with the behaviour of some of the characters. It seemed a little unrealistic to me ... I doubt that life in England at the turn of the century really was like that (even though I've read other novels and have seen movies that give the same sense), but it struck me as a little corny. I didn't buy it.

This book has received great critical acclaim, but for pure story-telling, it didn't grab me. I really wanted to love it, but just couldn't, even though there were things I really appreciate about the writing. I do love the cover.

The consensus of reviews is: "Generally positive -- but while many are impressed [they] also note that her attention to details and facts can be overwhelming". I concur.


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