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The Children of Men Paperback – 5 Jan 2006

4 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Paperback, 5 Jan 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; Export - Airside ed edition (5 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228522
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description


"A book of such accelerating tension that the pages seem to turn faster as one moves along." --"Chicago Tribune" "As scary and suspenseful as anything in Hitchcock." --"The New Yorker" "Extraordinary. . . . Daring. . . . Frightening in its implications." --"The New York Times" "Fascinating, suspenseful, and morally provocative. The characterizations are sharply etched and the narrative is compelling."--"Chicago Sun-Times" "Extraordinary ... daring ... frightening in its implications."--"The New York Times" "She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery."--"The Times" (UK)

Book Description

The year is 2021. No child has been born for twenty-five years. The human race faces extinction. So begins The Children of Men, P.D. James's dystopian novel of mass infertility and chilling mystery. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Theo Faron is an uncomfortable hero, perhaps even an anti-hero. Beginning with Theo's diary entry for 1st January 2021, we are asked to empathise with a fifty year old man who has never loved, in spite of having been married and fathered a child. He writes with more warmth of the family cat, and turns his back on an old colleague in his hour of need. It's hardly surprising that Theo isn't exactly slitting his wrists at the idea of humankind dying out. He doesn't seem to like humans very much anyway.

All this changes, however - as so often happens - with the arrival of a beautiful woman, the oddly-named Julian, a pre-Raphaelite goddess with a misshapen hand. (The polar opposite of Julianne Moore's gung ho character in the film, if you've seen it.) Julian is one of a small group of would-be activists, wanted by the State Security Police. The moment that Theo's diary gives way to breathless ramblings about this nubile creature buying oranges in the supermarket, you know it's only a matter of time before he too is in trouble.

The book is divided into two sections - Omega and Alpha. Omega makes good use of the diary conceit to feed us the ghastly details of James's imagined Britain: desperate woman pushing dolls about in prams; christenings held for kittens; old people 'encouraged' to take their own lives. With this cowardly new world firmly established, book two - Alpha - cranks up the pace, with a cat and mouse pursuit through the countryside. A more traditional third-person narrative takes hold of the story when it's no longer safe enough for Theo to keep a diary. The violence is real and bloody, and some tight plotting saves plenty of surprises for the end.

Religious symbolism is there in spades if you want it.
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By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
In a world where no child has been born for 25 years a small group of five rebels begin to plan to challenge the ruling dictatorship of England. But the five are far from united and seek help from Theo Faron, an academic who is the cousin of Xan the Warden of England. He believes there are many injustices and agrees to help them albeit reluctantly. He is also strongly attracted to Julian, a mysterious and lovely member of the group.

The Children of Men is a beautifully written dystopic novel The infertility has caused changes in attitudes and morality as the population becomes distorted. Many social issues are raised:
-"voluntary" suicides of the elderly
-indulgence of last born Omegas leading to criminality
-importation of other races to fill the labour gap but without being given any rights
-brutal suppression of criminals

The author also explores the way in which the regime in power wants to "do the right thing" but ends up prioritising policies and never quite coming to grips with the most serious problems.

A really interesting and thought provoking novel - and Theo is a great invention as the reluctant hero.
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Format: Paperback
The premiss of this novel is without parallel to my knowledge; and for all its unfamiliarity it comes across as thoroughly convincing and moving both because of the skill and care taken over the presentation of its setting and because of the way James blends the outworking of its grim thesis with the timeless themes of "faith, hope and love."
"Sci-fi" is a total misdescription: it may be set in an hypothetical future, but this future is - deliberately - so close to the present that literal accuracy or technical prediction is clearly beside the point. Like "1984" and other dystopic visions, its strengths lie in its terrifying picture of a world which can be all too easily extrapolated from the commonplace realities of the world that we accept almost without question.
I've read and much enjoyed several of the author's Dalgliesh detective novels, but I have no hesitation in saying that this is a greater, more imaginative and probably more important work than any of them. It's one of those really rather few books that I can't imagine ever forgetting.
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Format: Paperback
There have been a lot of good reviews of this book written already, so I'll keep it short.

The story is set in a world where no children have been born for over 20 years, and it appears that the entire human race is sterile. Theo is an Oxford professor who is forced into the centre of the action when a group of political activists want to use him to help overthrow his cousin, the Warden of England (essentially the dictator ruling Great Britain). A lot of interesting topics are touched upon, including the treatment of the youngest generation to ever walk the Earth and the rise of a dictator and the public's general apathy towards it so long as they can live comortably, which leads to the use of immigrants to do the jobs that nobody wants to do, the use of the Isle of Man as a huge prison and the encouragement of ritual suicide of the elderly.

There are two things to point out:
1) The book doesn't have a lot in common with the film, other than the general premise. It's not really better or worse, but it's different and worth reading even if you think you've seen in all before.
2) This sort of thing has been done elsewhere, in 'Greybeard' by Brian Aldiss. Both books are good, and I wouldn't really recommend one over the other.

A good book, slightly let down by the ending (it does reach a conclusion, more or less, but I didn't like it) and a few minor loose ends.
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