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The Emperor's Children Paperback – 6 Apr 2007

2.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (6 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330444484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330444484
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Henry James does 9/11...a richly enjoyable narrative.' -- Evening Standard

'Slick, smart and multilayered, this already widely acclaimed
American novel is a hugely satisfying read.' -- Irish Times

'Superbly written and observed and very witty.' -- 'Top Summer Reads', Woman and Home

'relentlessly readable, almost eerily well-oiled prose.' -- Word Magazine

'she has attempted nothing less than a state-of-the-nation novel
at a moment of historic crisis. Amazingly, she has succeeded.' -- Independent

'this beautifully structured novel skewers moral vacuity and
hypocrisy with a sureness of touch that is deeply satisfying.' -- Guardian

Book Description

In the glittering tradition of Edith Wharton, The Emperor's Children examines life in upper-crust Manhattan, and tells a compelling story of ambition, vanity and tragedy.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is dense and yet the story moves along well. The writing is beautiful and revelatory without losing sight of the characters or the story. Claire Messud manages to convey a real sense of New York and New Yorkers both native and adopted. It is one of the only books other than Edith Wharton or in a sense "The Bonfire of the Vanities", that I have read that gives a sense of the uniqueness of Manhattan as a city and the complex emotions it engenders in it's inhabitants and also in those who stay on the outside (ie the midwest or upstate New York). This is really an accomplishment, as it is so central to the idea of New York as a city and yet so very difficult to express. The book builds towards 9/11, which the reader knows is coming, while of course the characters are unaware of it. This adds a layer of poignancy and tension that is very effective. The twin towers and the pentagon are written about within the context of the lives of those in the book and so is apocolyptic on a human scale. There is a vibrant sense of life in the city at that exact moment in time that is really history now, even so soon afterwards(the anthrax scares?). At all times this book is amazingly well written and it does not feel either voyeuristic or opportunistic in relation to the real events of the time. Facinating and engrossing, "The Emperor's Children" will stay with me for a long time.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to respectfully disagree with the two negative reviews here. I found I couldn't put this book down, and that much of the power and comedy comes from Messud's style, which is lyrical when it needs to be, and looser when it needs to be -- just like James or Wharton (or Stendhal or Balzac). This is a fabulously entertaining book about ambition and failure in contemporary New York, fully of witty apercus and delicious dialogue. It is also genuinely moving -- the portrait of Murray Thwaite, the aging journalist, is very well done. Also, this is surely not "a 9/11 novel." Most of it is set before 9/ll, and Messud's profound point is that 9/ll doesn't change very much about these characters' lives. Except for one character, Bootie, who is always outside the charmed circle.
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Format: Hardcover
I wish I could share other people's overwhelming enthusiasm for this book but somehow I can't. Well crafted and well written, the book does convey a sense of what happens to people when talent, affluence and privilige isn't enough. It's familiar,if not perhaps stock,contemporary american characters move smoothly and unknowingly towards a finale marked by the tragedy of 9/11. But unlike other reviewers I was unmoved by the finale of this book. Maybe re-invention is a very contemporary response to tragedy but when its the re-invention of a relatively late coming and minor character,it seems a very feeble one. I hope there is a better New York story out there somewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Handsomely the best book on the 2006 Man Booker longlist, The Emperor's Children is by some distance Messud's most ambitious, accessible and gripping fiction.

This labrynthine yet curiously simple, almost mythical tale centres on a handful of intricately drawn New Yorkers in the weeks running into, and after, 9/11. These people are as alive as those in 'Anna Karenina', and we get the same sense of knowing, and revising, and knowing them again, this time even better. The very characterisation makes the book feel as exciting as a thriller.

At the same time, the emperor himself, a pompous, intelligent, morally complex figure called Murray Thwaite who tells New Yorkers what they should think about the morally complex world around them, is worthy of Philip Roth. But, unlike Roth, this isn't Messud's world, Messud's obsessive thundering vision; rather, it is a myriad of views from each character as they move discreetly around the low-light corridors of Thwaite's Manhattan home, and the gritty, perspiring and anxiety (and caffeine) fuelled streets of New York.

At first reading I thought the ending was slightly overworked, elegant but a little contrived, but on second reading the ending is perhaps the master stroke, distilling the very nature of the novel, an integrated moment of coincidence and self-absorbtion and imaginative energy.

This book is an extraordinarily delicate tapestry. One of the most comprehensively finished and polished novels of the past five years.
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Format: Paperback
I consider I just wasted valuable reading time by persevering with this novel for 300-odd pages. I was taken in by the glowing reviews inside and on the jacket and the fact that it had been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. I rarely if ever fail to finish a book, once started. But there's always a first! This was long-winded, poorly written (long convoluted sentences) and the plot failed to proceed at anything more than snail's pace. I couldn't engage with any of the characters who were either caricatures or stereotypes. Couldn't have cared less what happened to any of them.
I turned with a sense of relief to 'Waxwings' by Jonathan Raban. Now that's what I call writing!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed The Emperor's Children up to a point.

It evokes the lives of the privileged of NYC very well. And I enjoyed its critique of the neurotic and preening competitiveness of the glitterati. This is epitomised by Ludovic Seeley - the magazine editor from Australia who wants to take New York by storm and by Marina Thwaite, the spoiled and adored daughter of a Famous Journalist. The Famous Journalist claims to be a truth seeker but is shown to be a cheating husband and long on cant.

The reason I did not love this book is that I found most of the characters unsympathetic or deeply unsympathetic. As a result I did not care when Danielle Minkoff and Julius Clarke, who are two of the main characters, descend into misery caused by affairs going very wrong. The two characters I did find more sympathetic were Bootie Tubb and his sad mother Judy Tubb. They are flawed of course and are presented as outsiders and losers. Bootie does however manage to disrupt things.

Julius Clarke sums it up well when he says: "This is New York, guys. And people without money aren't noble, they're beggars."
Ultimately too cold-hearted and cynical for me but I would have liked to give it 3.5 stars..
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