Friday, Sep. 04, 2009

The Children's Book

Admirers of A.S. Byatt's lush Victorian romance-within-a-mystery Possession will be pleased to find her returning to the 19th century with her new novel. The Children's Book centers on English fairy-tale author Olive Wellwood, prolific in both writing and child-bearing (she and her husband have seven children), and a follower of the turn of the century's most fashionable social and aesthetic movements. The novel traces the family's fortunes from 1895 through the end of World War I, as they navigate the changing tides of progressivism and the tectonic cultural shift from Victorian to Modern. At nearly 700 pages, The Children's Book isn't child's play, but it promises Byatt's signature, absorbing blend of scholarship and storytelling.