This could be a difficult book to review because I love A.S. Byatt so much. I may be a bit biased. Byatt is one of those gifted writers who has a wonderful grasp of classic writing styles from prose to poetry. Reading her books often feels as if you have pulled Thomas Hardy or Charles Dickens off the shelf. If you didn't know any better, you would think you were reading a book written in the mid to late 1800s. THE CHILDREN'S BOOK is no exception.
THE CHILDREN'S BOOK follows the lives of a number of children in several families at the end of the Victorian age. Many of these families are bohemian aristocrats with socialist-style world views. Everything is art and free love. These ways of thinking serve to shape each of the children in different ways. The book follows the lives of the children through World War I and its devastating consequences on all of their lives.
This is a difficult book to describe because of its scope. The reader not only comes to know these individuals intimately and thoroughly but also views the effects that this tumultuous period of time in history. The detailed and old-fashioned style of writing may be cumbersome and tedious for some. However, I found I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what would happen with each storyline. Sadly, there are some individuals in the book that simply disappear at the end so the reader does not learn their fate.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Well written and incredibly detailed and well-developed. This book is not for everyone, however. You have to enjoy this style of writing as it often requires a slower reading pace. While it did not replace POSSESSION in my affection, it was still a great read.