The Children's Book
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.
Baker & Taylor
A tale spanning from the Victorian era through World War I finds famous children's book author Olive Wellwood taking in a runaway who reminds her of her own characters and exposing the boy to dark truths about her family's summer bacchanals at their rambling country house. By the Booker Prize-winning author of
A tale spanning the end of the Victorian era through World War I finds famous children's book author Olive Wellwood taking in a runaway and exposing the boy to dark truths about her family's summer bacchanals at their rambling country house.
Children and adults
World War, 1914-1918
From the critics
Focuses on several aristocratic and artistic families from 1895 to 1914. Shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker prize, it touches on social issues, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the politics of the era.
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... failure with clay was more complete and more spectacular than with other forms of art. You are subject to the elements, he said. Any one of the old four - earth, air, fire, water - can betray you and melt, or burst, or shatter - months of work into dust and ashes and spitting steam. You need to be a precise scientist, and you need to know how to play with what chance will do to your lovingly constructed surfaces in the heal of the kiln. 'It's purifying fire and demonic fire,' he said to Philip, who took in every word and nodded gravely. 'Very dangerous, very simple, very elemental - '
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