Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Moving towards A.S. Byatt

Tonight is my last night in the family home - I finally move out tomorrow, after months of just talking about it!

I'd probably be a lot more excited, had I not been laid low by a stonking cold (and cough) and if I'd done an iota of packing. C'est la vie - I'm not moving very far, just up the road in fact, so that should be a blessing when it comes to carting my things.

So, to commemorate this last night, I thought I'd take you on a tour of my favourite book of the year, so far .... even though I read most of it in 2009.

I've struggled with A.S. Byatt in the past - I always stop at the same place when reading 'Possession', and I've not been able to settle into anything else of hers. Also, I went right off her personally when I read her comments about Harry Potter readers 'Ms Rowling's magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip.' Bah humbug.
Happily, this did not put me off picking up 'The Children's Book' , and just as well, because it is a revelation to me. Starting out in 1895 and sweeping right through to the end of world war one, it is a portrait of half a dozen free thinking families whose lives all intertwine. At it's root is an adherence to Fabianism and artistry, so that the reader becomes familiar with the inner workings of the Victoria and Albert Museum, pot making and the writing of fairy tales. A.S. Byatt is adept at turning her writing to other forms and so manages to weave these tales as well as the rest of her novel.

Nothing I was expecting to happen actually does so, and those characters I was so interested in at the beginning shift, so that their importance is lessened later, much like the lives of any normal family.

This is a book that will stay with one, the richness of it only fully being appreciated the longer you think about it. And I love the cover - what more do you need!


Karen said...

I LOVE the cover of this one too! I tried to read this book last year but I just couldn't get into it at all. It seems as though it is a book definitely for some people and not for others. I do want to give it another try though so thanks for bringing it back to my attention. Good luck for your move!

Historian said...

I actually just finished this a few weeks ago! I'm with you, I absolutely loved it, if only because it was so unexpected. I had to read Possession for my 20th century british novel class, and I love how visual her writing is, for me. I picture it all in my head, and this one has some incredibly visceral imagery. And I agree with karen, good luck on the move!

Hannah Stoneham said...

I have been considering reading this one for a while and oddly enough there has been a bit of a discussion on my blog about the Lalique illustration on the front cover, even though I have not actually read it! I did love Possession although have not really got on with another of hers that I read.... I will take the plunge. Thank you for sharing, Hannah