Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dec. 29: The Children's Book

I have just finished reading A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book. I enjoyed her Possession, which took me out of a long dry streak and got me very involved and swept up, and CB did the same, though it took a while to do so. Byatt is a writer who can create another time period and also create characters who are people, so the reader feels as though she has lived through a different time and met people who never existed. The Children's Book covers the late Victorian period up through 1919, and spins off the socio-economic-psychological-political-emotional atmosphere of the time--the feeling that is at once naive and creepy and sexual and strange, all at once. I don't like Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland, and/so I skipped the stories that Olive writes that are in the heart of the plot, but Byatt certainly depicts the individual situations that those stories grew out of. There are weird things about it: Tom and Olive sort of fade out of the story, as does the Violet plot, but at the same time, that's how time passes and history unfolds. And Byatt gets away with telling a lot, a ton more than I'd allow any of my students--but somehow (though I did skim some of those political updates that lasted pages) she keeps the characters alive and immediate. It's an interesting book--not an easy one, and not a simple one. But I'd add it to the curriculum for my "Class to Help Students Understand History through Literature If Time Managment is Not a Problem"--and it would be a hit!

Rain last night, snow this am--6" of it! Pretty.

Note: just went online and read some reviews of CB. Lo and behold, there is literary gossip I did not know (!!), but at least the Times reviewer was much of my mind. . . . [<=That's supposed to be a link. Not sure if it is.] Perhaps I should now research Byatt's life in particular!

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