Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Children's Book

I've been curious about the novel The Children's Book by AS Byat since it came out:
Olive Wellwood lives an apparently perfect life; a successful writer of children's books, she lives in a beautiful old farmhouse in the Kentish countryside - Todefright, "tactfully extended and modernised in the Arts and Crafts style" - with her husband Humphry, her sister Violet and her brood of children. There they hold parties and mix with their friends and neighbours, well-known figures in the worlds of art, literature and politics; indeed, the novel begins in the run up to the Wellwoods' Midsummer party, with its Shakespearean themed costumes and a visiting puppet show.


Meanwhile Olive, pregnant again, continues to work not only on the children's books she writes for publication, but the individual, handwritten volumes she fills with stories for each of her own children, mysterious tales of secret worlds accessed through invisible doors, gaps in tree roots or cracks in tea-cups. Yet as with the Wellwoods' own lives, these beautiful fairy tales are filled with secrets and with danger, foreshadowing difficult times ahead as the children begin to grow out of their seemingly idyllic lives.

Read the whole review by Elizabeth Gregory here.

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