A.S. Byatt’s latest novel has a lot in common with her previous ones; it’s an intricately detailed work of historical fiction that follows a group of families through several generations. This one centers on a group of artists and writers, following them from the Victorian era through to World War One. The characters, I thought, were the best part of the book. They’re realistic and vivid, and even though there are a lot of them, it’s not that hard to keep track of them. Wanting to know what they would do kept me going through occasionally tedious descriptions of artwork, buildings, and landscapes. The characters also play out some really interesting ideas of the time, like the ways progressiveness and “free thinking” sometimes lead to real change, and sometimes just to a circle of people in a room, talking in circles. It’s a good book to read in long stretches, which makes it ideal for summer.

-review by Liz Galoozis, Reference Librarian/Coordinator of User Education

Check It Out

Check our catalog to see if this book is available.

Learn More

To learn more about the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th century depicted in the book, check out this exhibit catalog from the library’s collection, or an interactive guide from the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is also featured prominently as a location in The Children’s Book.

If you’re interested in reading other reviews of the book, check out these takes from The New York Times, NPR, and The Onion‘s A.V. Club.

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