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The Children

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  526 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
A bestseller when it was first published, The Children is a comic, bittersweet novel about the misadventures of a bachelor and a band of precocious children. The seven Wheater children, stepbrothers and stepsisters grown weary of being shuttled from parent to parent are eager for their parents' latest reconciliation to last. A chance meeting between the children and the so ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 19th 2006 by Virago (first published 1928)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 17, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Children is the fourth Edith Wharton novel I have read this year. I have been reflecting on how glad I am that I have come to her fairly late. I first read The House of Mirth many, many years ago, when, I think, I was too young to appreciate her. I then re-read it in January and it remains one of my favourite reads of 2012.
The Children I think is probably a novel that is less well known than some and according to the introduction to my edition by Marilyn French – much less appreciated. Yet
Edith Wharton wrote about things like telegrams, ball gowns, steamer ships. She wrote about money, and fancy dinner with china and crystal, and jewelry and fashion.

I know nothing about these things. And I don't particularly care about them either, not on a day-to-day basis. (Though receiving a telegram might be highly romantic and sort of fun.) But Wharton was able to make her readers care about those things; so much so that readers (no matter what their past or present holds, no matter who they
Nov 04, 2009 Sherien rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Edith Wharton
Recommended to Sherien by: Ayu Palar
Shelves: 20th-century
The Children tells the story of forty-something year old Martin Boyne and his relationship with the Wheater children he met during his travel on a ship. The Wheater children are seven stepbrothers and sisters who refuse to be separated in the midst of their parents’ separation. Boyne’s encounter gets further more than it should be when he becomes attracted to one of the children—15 year old Judith Wheater.

As we can find in her other stories, Wharton tells a story about an impossible relationshi
Aug 15, 2009 Dini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dini by: Ayu Palar
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2010 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Kept hoping for a happy ending as I read it, even though I know that's not Wharton's style. I'm not talking rainbows and lollipops happy, just a runner-up kinda happiness. But Wharton's characters only have one vision of perfect happiness, and when they can't realize it, they pretty much stop trying for any.

Still a well-written and realistic look at people in an escalating set of circumstances. Can't help being anything but bittersweet.

(BTW, the cover art on the copy I have is absolutely ridicul
Jul 07, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book quite fascinating. It held my interest all the way through, as I could not decide "what would happen" with any of the story arcs. The children's personalities are so well described that you can practically see them. The motivation of the central character (Martin Boyne) is a little harder to understand. I'm not sure it deserves the full five stars, but it is more than a four, so.... Had it been available, I would have picked 4 1/2!
Sharon Huether
A romance on the seas
Boyne saw a group of children, watched by an older sister, Judith. He was helping her with them at meal time and at play.
The parents left them in her care, for they wanted to have fun on their own.
Judith was only fifteen, but seemed older. She caught the eye of Boyne, who could only fantasize of what might be. It was a lovely short time, something he would always remember
Robert Blumenthal
Jul 12, 2012 Robert Blumenthal rated it it was amazing
Although not quite up to the brilliance of such books as The House Of Mirth and The Age of Innocence (not many novels are), this is a lighter but wondrous novel written relatively late in Wharton's career. It is wittier and less ponderous than most of her work, yet it is still a sad view of our human condition. The energy of "the children" adds much joy and humor to this oeuvre, yet the adults (especially the narrator and the parents of the children) are as deeply flawed as any that Wharton has ...more
Beautiful. I love how Wharton manages to capture sentiments we all have, but can't describe…:

"His apostrophe took in the mighty landscape which overhung him; the sense of peace flowed in on him from those great fastnesses of sun and solitude, with which the little low-ceilinged room, its books and flowers, the bit of needle-work in the armchair, the half-written letter on the desk, had the humble kinship of quietness and continuity. 'I'd forgotten that anything had any meaning,' he thought to hi
Pamela Ann
Sep 16, 2015 Pamela Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a surprisingly enjoyable book. I was expecting a far heavier work from Edith Wharton. I've never read her before and just had in mind she would be heavy going. But this had a humour underlying much of it and a major character who was only to ready to fluctuate between putting himself down and standing his own ground. The last sentence was a sad ending but at least it left the reader with a definite picture unlike the open endings that can drive one mad. Thanks to the other reviewers I'm ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Jukka added it
Shelves: wharton-books
The Children (1928) - Edith Wharton
Bizarre! Wonderfully so. A trip 'through the looking glass' to a hollow world of people divorced from their own feelings and lives, and the children left behind. A book about the blended (put in a blender that is) American family. Interesting and significant that Wharton chose a male protagonist for this story.

The book has four sections, which includes among other things the following: The first, a wonderful fall down the rabbit hole. The second, a 'mad-hatters
Jul 05, 2012 Marija rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
In some ways, Wharton’s The Children reads like a strange combination of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and Nabokov’s Lolita. With those two stories in mind, one would think that Wharton’s story would be equally “sensational” in both mood and tone. It’s not. Through all of the changes that do occur over the course of the novel, the tone of the story is marked by an underlying sense of stasis, reinforced by Martin’s own inability to come to terms with his feelings for the young Judith Wheater. It ...more
Apr 19, 2010 astried rated it really liked it
Am re-reading it and somehow can't enjoy it as much as before because EACH TIME Rose Sellars pops out the only thing I can think of is how manipulative calculative perfectly machiavellian woman she is. Each response, each gesture, each mimic is calculated to control Martin without him realizing it.

The thing is, how could I not realize it before? I was blathering about love which I suppose is true from Martin's side. But now it feels to me that the way Wharton presents the interaction between Ma
Oct 07, 2009 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
I was surprised when I saw this book on the shelf at the library, because I wasn't even aware it existed! But being a fan of Edith Wharton, I thought it was worth a try.

The story involves a civil engineer, Martin Boyne, who is aboard a ship on his way to visit Mrs. Rose Sellars, who has taken a summer home in the Dolomites. They are old acquaintances, and Mrs. Sellars' husband had recently died. Martin travels to her both to cheer her up, and because he feels that it would now be OK for him to
Susan Kavanagh
Aug 27, 2016 Susan Kavanagh rated it really liked it
Really a 4.5. Although not as famous as the titles we normally identify with Wharton, this is an excellent book. Written in the late 1920s, this novel presents a well drawn picture of the society of rich Americans living abroad. Having discarded the rigid mores of earlier New York society, these characters lead lives full of possessions and little regard for conventions. Wharton focuses on their attitudes toward child raising. The narrator, an outsider with more old fashioned moral standards, de ...more
I have to disagree with the summary, which uses the adjective "comic." This book is heart-breaking. That's really the only reason why I'm not giving it 4 or 5 stars, as I normally would for a Wharton novel. (view spoiler)
Robert Grabell
Nov 28, 2012 Robert Grabell rated it liked it
i know not what book some of these other people have read, but in this one, the teenage girl pursues the 46 year-old man and he avoids her

Wharton obviously wrote from the perspective of the teenage girl grown, reflecting on some lost love from a past so sordid that a teenage girl with a 46 year-old man was the preferred alternative

a middle-age man, en-route to join his life's love ( a widow who refused to leave her loveless marriage for what seems no reason except to be cruel to him) becomes re
Aug 22, 2014 Susie rated it really liked it
I continually amazed at how modern Edith Wharton can be. The last book I read was about a love child and this one is about divorces and a combined group of siblings. The characters are all terrific and I thought the relationships and various "loves" was quite realistic.
Jul 30, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
This is the only Wharton story I can think of that has children as the main characters; she's surprisingly good at writing them. The basic tale follows a middle-aged man who, through a shipboard friendship with a young woman, becomes the nominal guardian of seven children. The children's parents, all jet-setting superficial types who have married and subsequently divorced each other, use the children as pawns in divorce settlements and suchlike--only the children themselves want to stay together ...more
Oct 12, 2016 Ruth rated it liked it
I like the way Edith Wharton writes, so of course this was good. But not my favorite, probably because I couldn't totally see past the narrator's fixation with the very young Judith, which isn't my favorite thing to read about.
I loved this novel - up until the final paragraph, but that has more to do with the era in which I live, than in the plot.
Written in 1928, it deals with a bachelor who falls in love with a "blended" family of seven children and eventually, and specifically, with the eldest sister.
It amazed me how rife it was with what we think of as modern issues - children of divorced parents, dysfunctional families, child psychology, decadent lifestyles and a May/December quasi-romance.
I have a new appreciat
Oct 14, 2011 Beth rated it liked it
A late Wharton in which she initially drifts into Jamesian prose. Martin, an Edwardian Humbert Humbert, becomes enchanted with a group of “hotel” children loosely kept together by the eldest, a girl of 15. Martin is intrigued (and soon enchanted) by the Wheater children, and most particularly the determined and naive eldest. He is also in a long-term relationship with Rose, but as he becomes more involved with the children, he postpones his long-overdue marriage. Rose finally recognizes that his ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
Martin Boyne befriends a loose family of unruly children on board a ship and gets far more than he bargained for when he's drawn into their family affairs and starts to fall in love with the eldest, fifteen-year-old Judith. Man, I came so close to bouncing off this one. Regrettably, Wharton just doesn't do children well; their precocity is faintly repulsive. Fortunately, once she's finished introducing the children, it becomes much more interesting, as she trains her piercing gaze on the shenani ...more
Jul 23, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
This book is well written if hard to follow with the many marriages and divorces that form the storyline of the children's crisis. I would have enjoyed it more if the old man's affection for a very young woman weren't so dated and distasteful
Feb 09, 2016 Marisol rated it really liked it
La prosa de Warthon es un poco poesía, puede hacer que sientas cosas que no imaginabas.
Este mundo ideal que subyuga al protagonista y lo hace cambiar el rumbo de su vida, por nada dirían muchos, por todo diría el.
Feb 07, 2015 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
I loved this obscure novel from the master who gave us Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence. In true Wharton style, she gives us great characters in conflict with society, gender and ultimately, themselves.
Sep 25, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012, yanks
This is the best book I have read in ages. A forgotten masterpiece. If you have ever wondered what happened to the children of the kind of vapid socialites that appeared in The Great Gatsby (published three years before this book), here is an answer. Wharton is, in many ways, just as cynical and embittered about the 'jazz age', but she applies a sly humour that makes this book much more fun than Fitzgerald's.

I would recommend this book to everyone! I have read some of Wharton's earlier work (Age
Stacy Bart
Feb 21, 2013 Stacy Bart rated it really liked it
I always enjoy the Victorian Age as a setting and Edith Wharton's raw view of the upper class. She shows their naked truths (and lies) that sit just beneath the gilded exterior of their mannered world. However, they all end the same way. The hero or heroine is doomed to long for the unrequited love. The unattainable is kept from them by the rules and propriety of society. I love these books because they use a larger and more vivid vocabulary than current fiction. The characters become a vignette ...more
Sep 22, 2014 Monique rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Started the book and could not get engaged so did not finish. Too bad as I have liked all of Edith Wharton's books I read in the past.
Jul 31, 2016 Jriley55 rated it really liked it

I didn't like it at first, but then I couldn't wait
to see how it ended.
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Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
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“When two people part who have loved each other it is as if what happens between them befell in a great emptiness - as if the tearing asunder of the flesh must turn at last into a disembodied anguish.” 8 likes
“Cuando un hombre amaba a una mujer ésta siempre tenía la edad que él quisiera; y cuando dejaba de amarla se convertía en demasiado vieja para los hechizos o en demasiado joven para la técnica .” 1 likes
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