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The Children's Book    by A. S. Byatt order for
Children's Book
by A. S. Byatt
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

One of my favourite movie genres are period dramas. The Children's Book looks, sounds and feels like a sweeping period epic by some master film director. The period covers thirty years from 1885 to 1919.

This book (that took seven years to develop) is meticulously researched and is part history lesson of the fascinating late Victorian time. This was an era of free thinkers, development of anarchism and the blooming of trade unions. Sprinkled throughout the work are a number of real persons and events but this is a masterful work of fiction.

The narrative focuses on three families with equal time on the stories of the adults and of the children. Each character is developed to the fullest and the drama unfolds in most unpredictable ways. This would be a page-turner except for the immensity of the work. The language is rich and the issues are thought provoking so this book takes time to read, and with 615 pages few would finish it over a weekend.

The characters in this novel will be long remembered but bringing them and their issues alive in an especially vivid period is remarkable. The Children's Book is a classic novel.

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