Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

The Children's Book (edition 2010)

by A.S. Byatt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,9781731,920 (3.84)1 / 564
Title:The Children's Book
Authors:A.S. Byatt
Info:Vintage (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 896 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

  1. 71
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: Similar in time frame to The Children's Book, but with a much more satisfactory central mystery and ending. Also contains a fairy-tale authoress and several inserted "tales".
  2. 60
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 50
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: The more I read of The Children's Book, the more it reminded me of War and Peace - the same juxtaposition of small-scale, human dramas against the sweep of history, and the same knack for introducing characters as children who are recognisably the same people as the adults at the end of the book.… (more)
  4. 10
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (kiwiflowa)
  5. 10
    Sugar and Other Stories by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: The genesis of "The Children's Book" can be seen in the short story, "The Changeling".
  6. 00
    The Lake House by Kate Morton (kethorn23)
  7. 00
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (Crypto-Willobie)
  8. 00
    Little, Big by John Crowley (Crypto-Willobie)
  9. 00
    The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey (JoEnglish)
  10. 00
    Tempest-Tost by Robertson Davies (Cecilturtle)
  11. 24
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (kidzdoc)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (162)  Dutch (5)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All (173)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
When an author tries to entertain and enlighten us with long descriptions of three puppet shows in the first hundred pages of a 900-page book, this reader is unlikely to finish her book, or try to. At that the puppeteering was arguably more interesting than her interminable sequence describing in minute detail what several dozen guests were wearing to a lawn party. It doesn't help that all the while most readers will be sent to the dictionary multiple times per page. This book is so overwritten that it makes Look Homeward Angel look like flash fiction. Which is a pity, for the author builds great characters and has a nice feel and affinity for the doings of the artistic and intellectual elite of late-Victorian London. But reading this book is a chore. And I refuse to turn reading into a chore. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Mar 11, 2017 |
It was almost a history lesson as Byatt summarised key events over the years and even weaved in the suffrage movement into the story. Can be over the top at times but thankfully the plot saved the book. At the end of the book, you feel you have grown up with the characters leading you to feel for them and unashamedly shedding a tear at the end at the almost-family reunion. ( )
  siok | Jan 30, 2017 |
Byatt is curiously prone to report the behavior of her characters, rather than just show them. If she weren't dealing with so much: fairy tales and folklore, the Arts and Crafts movement, the rise of Fabianism and social justice movements of all kinds; if not for all that it'd be a dud. And while I'm listing faults, there is a singular lack of joy. None of these people are ever shown being happy; all of their happy moments occur offstage. Sex, for example, is traumatic, not just, adequate. It makes for an overall depressing reading experience. And referring to "Charles/Karl" is just annoying, without every giving us a sense of who calls him by which name.

Those are my complaints. It is, nevertheless, a marvelous book. While the large cast may keep us from seeing anyone's high moments, it does enable us to see what life was like at the time for a broad array of people. Byatt is more interested in social and political activism, so the cast is broader in political views than in class: this is not Downton Abbey with half the time spent upstairs and half the time spent down.

I'm glad I read it, and I think Byatt's synthesis of culture in an historical context is awesome. But the unrelenting misery of all the characters means this is a deeply unhappy book even before you get to the war.

Library copy. ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
It was okay- TOO MUCH HISTORY!!! lots of good storylines, but tooo much information about too many historical politicians and artists. It takes away from the characters. ( )
  Michelle_Wendt | Jun 15, 2016 |
I finished The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt yesterday. She paints a rather vivid picture of the world back then but I am wondering whether to give it a 3 or a 4 (out of 5). I I think she was trying to do too much, make too many points. Also, the ending was frustrating.

Okay, so we have 5 families in 1890s England. This makes for a lot of characters and 4 of the families have quite a few secrets. By the end of the book, you know all these secrets, except for the two main ones. This is what makes the ending so infuriating. Yes, you have maybe an 80% certainty of what went on but you'll never really know (I'm being vague for brevity and lack of spoilers).

With all the different characters and quite a bit of exposition about the times that sometimes feels like a textbook (yes, an engaging textbook but a textbook, nonetheless), the moral, thesis, point, thing gets muddled. Also, I wasn't able to become attached to any of the many characters, with the possible exceptions of Dorothy and Phillip. I'm not sorry I read it, though. ( )
  Caitlin70433 | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
The novel has a tendency to sprawl, with too many characters and too much to say. Yet Byatt takes tender care with the reader. She is a careful guide, and though this entry is at times a lot to process, it’s a worthwhile journey.
While Byatt’s engagement with the period’s over­lapping circles of artists and reformers is serious and deep, so much is stuffed into “The Children’s Book” that it can be hard to see the magic forest for all the historical lumber — let alone the light at the end of the narrative tunnel. The action is sometimes cut off at awkward moments by ponderous newsreel-style voice-over or potted lectures in cultural history. Startling revelations are dropped in almost nonchalantly and not picked up again until dozens or even hundreds of pages later. Byatt’s coda on the Great War, dispatched in scarcely more pages than the Exposition Universelle, is devastating in its restraint. But too often readers may feel as if they’re marooned in the back galleries of a museum with a frighteningly energetic docent.
Byatt’s characters are themselves her dutiful puppets, always squeezed and shaped for available meaning. The Children’s Book has a cumulative energy and intelligence, and the unavoidable scythe of the Great War brings its own power to the narration, but nowhere in its hundreds of pages is there a single moment like the Countess Rostova’s free and mysterious irritation.
added by jburlinson | editLondon Review of Books, James Wood (pay site) (Oct 8, 2009)
As in her Booker Prize–winning novel, Possession, here Byatt has constructed a complete and complex world, a gorgeous bolt of fiction, in this case pinned to British events and characters from the 1870s to the end of the Great War...the magic is in the way Byatt suffuses her novel with details, from the shimmery sets of a marionette show to clay mixtures and pottery glazes.
added by Shortride | editThe Atlantic (Oct 1, 2009)
It begins with the discovery of a boy hiding in a museum.

The time is 1895, the boy is Philip Warren, and the museum is the precursor to the Victoria & Albert: the South Kensington Museum. And, oh, yes –there’s a remarkable piece of art that the boy is besotted with — the Gloucester Candlestick. However, while this may make many children’s book mavens think immediately of E. L. Konigsburg’s classical story for children, let me say straight out — A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book is a book for grown-ups. It is emphatically not a children’s book although it is about children, about books, about art, about the writing of children’s books, about the telling of children’s stories, about the clash between life and art, and about a whole lot more. A saga of a book teeming with complex characters, fascinating settings, intellectual provocations, and erudite prose, it gets under your skin as you get deeper and deeper into it and won’t let you go even after you reach the last page....

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byatt, A. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKenzie, NicoletteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, StephenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Jenny Uglow
First words
Two boys stood in the Prince Consort Gallery, and looked down on a third. It was June 19th, 1895.
"So dangerous, don't you think, giving romantic names to little scraps who may grow up as plain as doorposts."
She didn't like to be talked about. Equally, she didn't like NOT to be talked about, when the high-minded chatter rushed on as though she wasn't there. There was no pleasing her, in fact. She had the grace, even at eleven, to know there was no pleasing her. She thought a lot, analytically, about other people's feelings, and had only just begun to realise that this was not usual, and not reciprocated.
She was not really a playwright. The auditions taught her that. A true playwright makes up people who can be inhabited by actors. A storyteller makes shadow people in the head, autonomous and complete.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt is not the same as The Children's Book edited by Frances Hodgson Burnett, even though Librarything's program has confused the two.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272095, Hardcover)


for the Man Booker Prize

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

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.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

Taking us from the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, The Children’s Book is a deeply affecting story of a singular family, played out against the great, rippling tides of the day. It is a masterly literary achievement by one of our most essential writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:08 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
25 avail.
318 wanted
7 pay4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.84)
0.5 4
1 16
1.5 4
2 37
2.5 15
3 123
3.5 58
4 218
4.5 59
5 178


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 113,785,549 books! | Top bar: Always visible