After I wrote about Love, Work, Children, by Cheryl Mendelson, a friend said to me “Well, if you hated that one, you will really hate The Emperor’s Children.” Never one to just take advice unquestioningly, I had to see for myself. I’m glad to say that I didn’t hate this book. Yes, it has a lot of privileged people who sit around alternately thinking about how special they are, or feeling sorry for themselves, but that’s balanced by some more outward-looking characters who can see that the emperor has no clothes, as it were.
I do like a book with a lot of interconnected characters, and story lines that weave around each other, and this book has that. Most of the characters are likable, and even the unlikable ones are fully formed, not paper cutouts. At times I even managed to feel sorry for Marina, who is, with the exception of her father Murray, the most unlikable character in the book.
This is the first novel I’ve read that includes the events of
I looked at reviews on Amazon just now and it seems that a lot of people think this book is overrated or overhyped. I mostly agree with them, though I don’t think it’s as bad as some say it is. Several people complained about Messud’s habit of writing really long sentences. Yes, sometimes I had to look back at the beginning of the sentence to remember what she was talking about at the end. It didn’t bother me; in fact, I found it endearing.
If I had had really high hopes for this book this would be a nastier post. But having begun reading with the expectation of hating it, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe that should be my new approach.
(Book 6, 2008)