What I'm Currently Reading: The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

     Before I begin, I have a confession: I'm currently in the middle of reading two gigantic tomes....at once. Funny, and I wonder why I never seem to retain all that I would want to from these large weights after I finish reading them (bibliomaniac's first world problems here). One of the novels currently on my bookshelf is a piece of historical fiction (the one for which this post will discuss) and the other an Eleanor Roosevelt biography that I'm still trudging through, and finally nearing the end of, after almost a year. Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Now, onto the topic at hand....

I had begun to read The Children's Book a few yesteryears ago, and instantly became intrigued, if not drawn in completely, by the writing style of author A.S. Byatt, as I sunk into the first few chapters. The way she interwove the fictional narratives of the families focused in the arts movement in 1895 Victorian England, the fluidity as she transitioned between character introductions and the flawless, fairytale-esque atmosphere, was the ultimate experience for myself as the reader.  Being a novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, I wanted to know more about the blessings and possible dysfunctions of these children's lives that were a component of their creative roots and upbringings, and the madness and joy that their families endured as they developed their artistic habits, careers, and journeys.

Eventually, something or another came up in life, I put this down, begrudgingly returned it to the library, thinking with envy that another blessed soul will find it, and be able to give it the attention it deserves. Soon, all remembrances of it were erased from my mind. Until one recent week, it appeared in the forefront of my mind as I was updating my TBR list in Goodreads. I knew it...I simply had to have this captivating novel in my hands once more.

As it is, the sheer number of main characters, as well as supporting characters in this novel is pretty daunting upon first glance. I'm 102 pages into the novel, and a good portion of these characters have been introduced already. Throughout my reading, I'm finding that I'm referring back to this list of characters and family trees quite a bit, because if one's not careful, they can start to jumble the characters together, as the myriad of social situations and character developments are switching from one to the next, quite literally, from page to page (These notes were taken from both active reading, and from Wikipedia):

     The central family of this novel thus far are the Wellwoods who live at Todefright House. Humphry Wellwood is a banker who is looking to change careers, and Olive Wellwood, his wife, is a highly praised author of children's stories who has taken their children into her creative ponderings and made them aware of fairytale wonderlands. The stories interwoven into these children's lives so far comes with a sort of dark underlying backstory, at least from what I've gathered, and it has a gripping pull on the reader as more about these families and their pasts are uncovered. Some actual historical figures have a part in this storyline as well.

At 102 pages in, I'm definitely looking forward to delve into all that A.S. Byatt has put into this work, and the sheer amount of knowledge that she had either acquired or already possessed regarding this era in England history really makes this an ambitious work that I can't wait to uncover for myself.

Volume size be damned, this is a novel that I am, and will continue to, feast my eyes and mind upon for quite a time. I will be updating my progress on this book as I go further in (as well as updating my note-taking, I can imagine, as this book never runs short of details and historical information).

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