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  • Published: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099535454
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 624
  • RRP: $22.99

The Children's Book

Reissued with a beautiful new illustrative cover, a marvellous and gripping novel of family secrets, art and society by the author of Possession

Famous author Olive Wellwood writes a special private book, bound in different colours, for each of her children. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh they play in a story-book world - but their lives, and those of their rich cousins and their friends, the son and daughter of a curator at the new Victoria and Albert Museum, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries its own secrets.

They grow up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, but as the sons rebel against their parents and the girls dream of independent futures, they are unaware that in the darkness ahead they will be betrayed unintentionally by the adults who love them. This is the children's book.

  • Published: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099535454
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 624
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

A S Byatt

A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize 1990), the Frederica Quartet and The Children’s Book, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999, and was awarded the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her ‘inspiring contribution to life writing’ and the Pak Kyongni Prize 2017. In 2018 she received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.

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Praise for The Children's Book

Intricately worked and sumptuously inlaid novel...seethes and pulses with an entangled life, of the mind and the senses alike. Colour and sensation flood Byatt's writing...she is a master-potter, or magic-working puppeteer

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Superlatively displays both enormous reach and tremendous grip...sizzling with ideas and alive with imaginative energy, too...this is the most stirring novel AS Byatt has written since Possession

Sunday Times

It's success is as a novel of ideas, forcefully and often memorably expressed, while the story follows darkening fortunes into a chastened postwar world

Helen Dunmore, The Times

Compelling...strenuously inclusive and also tremendously enriching - an intricate tale, energetically fashioned from sturdy strands of material, by "a spinning fairy in the attic", an indefatigable storyteller

Irish Times

Astonishing power and resonance

Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph

More than a novel, this is a historical primer, discursive, shimmering with colour and texture, containing stories within stories and giving walk-on parts to luminaries of the age... For fans of Byatt this is better than Possession. A truly great novel

Daily Express

Light and lustrous, commanding and transporting, The Children's Book is superb

Daily Mail

The Children's Book beats even its predecessors

Julian Evans, Prospect

The sort of high concept rarefied intellectual fiction we'd expect from, well, A S Byatt. Posession: the next generation

Sophie Gee, Financial Times

Beautiful, bracing and bold. Her handling of dialogue is unfussy, precise and rude. This is a moving book. Its words are beautifully chosen... AS Byatt is Gaudi and Christopher Wren rolled in to one

Tom Adair, Scotsman

Extraordinary rich book is superbly embedded in the thoughts and beliefs and feelings if the period - and indeed in its interior décor

Caroline Moore, Spectator

Magnificent loquacity...gripping and often deeply affecting

Pamela Norris, Literary Review

Byatt's novel combines meaty ideas with the breathless page-turning propulsion of an old-fashioned saga... Brimming with intelligence and sensuality, this is the perfect summer book

Claire Allfree, Metro

Heartfelt and acute

Erica Wagner, The Times

Dense and intense, highly decorated and richly populated...you wonder at her thirst for reading and knowledge and desire to communicate...[and] her prodigious appetite for storytelling...remarkable, peerless, and wilfully and delightfully and unapologetically intellectual, the kind of writer who makes you marvel at what she manages to put on the page

Alan Taylor, Herald

Byatt is at her brilliant best...The fantasy here is dark and frightening, going to the edge of what a child can bear. Alongside such rich, strange meat, Harry Potter starts to feel like a vanilla snack for scaredy cats


It certainly compares to its popular predecessor [Possession] in daring and scope and...is its equivalent in terms of storytelling and readability. For all of its more than 600 pages it is rarely less than totally absorbing - and often very moving

Lorna Bradbury, Daily Telegraph

Byatt has not just produced an engrossing family saga but an anthem for a generation

Max Davidson, The Mail on Sunday1

You can count on A.S. Byatt to produce an engrossing saga.

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

The best thing she's ever done

Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph Summer Reads

Byatt's novel - her first for seven years - is rarely less than totally absorbing and often very moving

Daily Telegraph Summer Reads

Byatt being Byatt - which is to say one of the cleverest writers of her generation - her latest novel is anything but childish... The Children's Book is one of the most grown-up you will read all year...Byatt is at her brilliant best marshalling her large cast into a series of set pieces... The personal stories are played out against a meticulously-realised bigger picture... It is in fact a sexy book, full of erotic longing patchily fulfilled. Byatt is never better than when describing Victorians trying to case of their inhibitions along with their clothes and tripping themselves up in the process... The fantasy here is dark and frightening, going to the edge of what a child can bear. Alongside such rich, strange meat, Harry Potter does indeed start to feel like a vanilla snack for scaredy cats.


Late in the 19th century three boys meet in what is later to become the V & A museum... Their entwined lives lie at the heart of this brilliant inquiry into art, family and morality at the turn of the century

Guardian Saturday Review, SUMMER READS

Ambition, scholarship and exquisite prose

Joanna Briscoe, Grazia

Easily the best novel Byatt has written since Possession...displays enormous reach and tremendous grip

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

Wonderfully enjoyable

Christina Koning, The Times


Emily Firetog, Irish Times

Byatt's first book for seven years takes on the artistic themes of the day in exhilarating detail

Vanessa Thorpe, Observer

Majestic and immensley ambitious novel...[a] monument of a novel

Neal Ascherson, New York Review

My favourite book of 2009 for its scope, its narrative energy and its sensitivity to the strangeness of familiar-seeming things

Lawrence Norfolk, Times Literary Supplement

Totally engrossing

Lynn Roberts, The Tablet

AS Byatt's novel could surely be exhibited as a case of superlative novelistic design

Anita Sethi, Indepedent on Sunday

Magnificent, intricate novel... Byatt is an enchanter

Daily Telegraph

Imaginative brio and intellectual zest winningly combine in a book that sizzles with acute perceptions

Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times Christmas pick

Easily the best thing Byatt's written since Possession, her panoramic novel focuses on a bohemian colony of writers and potters in early 20th-century Kent

Sunday Times Summer Reading

It's absorbing, lush and full of thoughts, ideas and characters who live with you

Hannah McGill, Sunday Herald, Christmas round up

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