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The Children

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  253 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
When their father is critically injured, foreign correspondent Mandy and her siblings return home, bringing with them the remnants and patterns of childhood. Mandy has lived away from the country for many years. Her head is filled with images of terror and war, and her homecoming to the quiet country town - not to mention her family and marriage - only heightens her discon ...more
Paperback, 269 pages
Published October 2007 by Allen & Unwin (first published 2007)
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Helen King
Jun 14, 2015 Helen King rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Lovely, painful book centring around adult children returning home in the event of their father's accident, which has placed him into intensive care, and likely to die. The interactions between the 'children' and in laws, their mother, the memories of their father, are well crafted. Not a particularly uplifting book, but true to life.

Quote that seems to be referred to often, but is very true - 'You bring your children up to escape sorrows. You spend your best years trying to stop them witnessin
...more
Betty
Aug 11, 2015 Betty rated it really liked it
I started reading this, and although it is beautifully written I was worried it was going to be "a new Australian novel....all landscape and imagery and symbols and no plot" as the protagonist Mandy says. However, the story builds and the novel becomes quite compelling as the reader follows the family members as they cope with the dying of their father. It is beautifully observed and thoughtful. One character comments on Mandy's open nature, saying "her unchecked opinions were rare at university ...more
Dale Harcombe
Feb 11, 2013 Dale Harcombe rated it liked it
Hard to classify this book and just as hard to rate it. But I think I’ll stick with 3 stars.
Some of it is beautifully written and made me sit and absorb the structure of sentences and descriptions, like that of crepe myrtles, ‘are in shocking pink flower all down the road. When she was little she loved their gaudy pinks and crimsons, but as she grew older she began to realise they were tawdry, that these were the colours of bargain shops and chemist-brand lipsticks and she became ashamed for the
...more
Mish
Jan 08, 2015 Mish rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mish by: Kaylene
In a small county town, Geoff is outside doing repairs to the roof. Margaret, his wife was in the in the kitchen preparing dinner when she heard a loud ‘thump’. Geoff has fallen. He’s in a very bad way with severe head injuries and they don’t know if he will survive. Margaret calls her adult children, Mandy, Stephen and Cathy, to tell them of the terrible news and the siblings all return home.

Mandy is a foreign correspondent and has been living in war zones parts of the world for many years, whi
...more
5inabus
Feb 28, 2012 5inabus rated it it was ok
Here is a collection of the most depressed, depressing individuals that it is possible to conjure in one small volume. The inside flap would have you believe that you're taking a journey into the heart of a family "as normal, and as broken, as any other". What a load of ostrich feathers. Everyone knows there's no such thing as a normal family, and the reference to broken is simply to cash in at the counter for the Recognition of Dysfunctional Families (incorporated).

Don't get me wrong. Dysfunct
...more
Steve lovell
Jun 19, 2010 Steve lovell rated it really liked it
A dysfunctional woman returns from a dysfunctional war zone to her dysfunctional marriage in a seemingly functional Australia. It is the summer of the Cronulla riots with a cold-hearted prime minister politically and not too subtly fanning racial intolerance. A father's tragic accident is the reason for a family coming together to bicker, to go over old hostilities and to try and see each other in a less corrosive light. Another dysfunctional life then imposes itself on the family allowing Woods ...more
Brenda
Oct 21, 2014 Brenda rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brenda by: library bookclub
I enjoyed this book very much. It is a different type of book for me, but it is our current bookclub book and a quick, easy read.

It tells the story of 3 adult children who return home to Rundle, near Sydney, Australia, when their father is terribly injured falling from the roof of his house...

Mandy is a war correspondent based in Iraq, and has seen awful things happen..Stephen has been estranged from his family for years, and Cathy has been trying to keep the family together. Chris is Mandy's hu
...more
Francene Carroll
Feb 20, 2015 Francene Carroll rated it it was ok
A story about a dysfunctional family reunited for the first time in years by a tragedy. There are three children in this family, approaching middle-age, and all of them are emotionally damaged in some way. Stephen, the only son, has turned his back on his family as a result of simmering childhood resentments that he could never get past. He lives what appears to be an unfulfilling existence in a dead end job in Sydney. Cathy is also stunted and still living in a studio apartment and working in t ...more
Lauredhel
Not rated because this was one of those "it's not you, it's me" books. A dysfunctional family of adult siblings gathers around their father's deathbed. I was bored.

I'm keen for The Natural Way of Things to get the Stella, though.
Kate
Jan 25, 2014 Kate rated it it was ok
I get a little gushy when I talk about Charlotte Wood. Her writing hits all the right chords for me, particularly her quiet, thoughtful observations about everyday life. She manages to pick out the extraordinary in the ordinary.

You’re probably wondering why then, if I love her work so much, I haven’t read everything she’s ever written already. It’s simply because I like to meter my reading joy. Do you feel a ‘but’ coming?

The Children wasn’t my favourite thing Charlotte Wood has written. Many of
...more
Heather Boundy
I think that I should have enjoyed this book more than I did. The precept of family reunion, bringin with it all of the experiences and leftover hurts of childhood generally makes for a good story. Yet somehow Wood' s characters failed to engage me. The mother was a very shadowy figure, the main protagonist, the journalist Mandy failed to gain my sympathy. The tension between her and the stalker built up in the second half of the story to a reasonable pitch, but I just got the feeling it should ...more
Robyn
Jan 04, 2013 Robyn rated it really liked it
I really like this author; have now read this and also "Animal People" which is a loose sequel to TC and very much enjoyed both. Her characters are ordinary Australians of all types, and through them she touches on many contemporary issues in a really interesting way. This book - dealing with a family coming together after the father has a serious accident - was poignant, especially for those who have lost a parent, or indeed, grown up with brothers and sisters. The seriousness is leavened thoug ...more
Jillwilson
Nov 29, 2011 Jillwilson rated it really liked it
Last night at my women's group we talked about the impact of being in a tribe - in my case a large and close family. We talked about the sense of security it gives you. There is a layer of confidence that you have in going out to meet the world, beacuse your tribe is strong, you are loved, there are people that will care for you and opportunities for intimacy. It provides a kind of resilient backbone.

The Children is about siblings in a family. It might not be very interesting if it was about a
...more
Mark Peterson
Oct 08, 2011 Mark Peterson rated it liked it
Wood seems to have a great gift for evocative imagery, and few novels I've read recently capture scenes with such vivid and captivating detail. Likewise, the characters are beautifully complex and believable, particularly the misunderstood Tony. Both loathsome and pitiable, he rings true to every social outcast you've awkwardly tried to interact with.

In fact, Wood seems to have an astute grasp of the broken, as everyone in the story is disfunctional in some unique but believable way (although t
...more
Diana
Sep 03, 2013 Diana rated it liked it
The Children is a perfectly detailed, unflinchingly honest story about a family unable to adequately communicate or empathise with each other as they deal with the critical injury of their father. The story focuses on Mandy, the eldest, who is a foreign war correspondent, the person she has become in her years of work, and how this affects her relationships and outlook.

The details and observations in this book are impressive and true, while the prose is startling and beautiful. The story itself
...more
Kirstie
Mar 21, 2013 Kirstie rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
I found this book a very compelling read. It centres on a family whose father has been hospitalised - the three children return home. One of them is a war correspondent, and it is her story that becomes the central source of narrative tension. Her unhappy marriage and her increasing alienation from her family were fascinating. What drives her to 'bear witness' to the ugliest aspects of life was explored both sympathetically (she hates social pretence) but also very darkly (it's become an adrenal ...more
Yvonne Boag
Jul 04, 2012 Yvonne Boag rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When their father is badly injured falling off the roof of the family home, three grown children return to the town they grew up in. Mandy is a war correspondent in Iraq and is the oldest sister. Battered and broken she finds it so hard to relate to anything or anyone any more including her husband Chris. Stephen, the middle child has been estranged from his family for years while Cathy, the youngest is the peacekeeper trying to keep the family together. Margaret, their mother is trying to adjus ...more
Tracey
Dec 27, 2011 Tracey rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Really enjoyed this. An insightful exploration of the relationships between adult children, and how childhood events shape and inform the adults we become.

I'm already looking forward to reading Charlotte Wood's next book.

Favourite quotes:
"The earliest kites consisted of a huge leaf attached to a long string, he reads. He turns the pages, looking at all those kites, stamped bright into all the skies around the world, each one suspended there like a held breath."

"You bring your children up to esca
...more
Andrew Hall
Oct 23, 2015 Andrew Hall rated it really liked it
Charlotte has an innate ability to get right to the heart of feelings. A dark and deep story where the past intertwines with the present without our knowledge. Do past events really shape our lives so deeply?
Maggie
Apr 20, 2009 Maggie rated it liked it
Have just finished this book and I feel ambivalent about it. At times I thought I wouldnt continue with it, especially early on, but I stayed with it and feel glad that I did so. It concerns three adult children returning home to sit at their father's bedside following a traumatic injury. The past joins them. My only concern is that it is very clearly set in Australia - not a bad thing! - but I wonder how overseas readers will understand the frequent local references. These references are passin ...more
Amanda Hanison-Nagel
Interesting, I felt like the end could have been 20 pages earlier or later, not clearly defined. Left me with some powerful images though...
Calzean
A father falls off the roof with life threatening injuries. His three children, one a war correspondent, come back to the family home in the middle of NSW to support their mother. Mandy, the war correspondent is deeply depressed from the violence she has seen and finds coming back to boring, safe home is not helping. Her husband, sister, brother and mother all have their own depressive lives to deal with.
The writing is brilliant, the story flows OK, but the family tensions and character developm
...more
Jodi
Mar 05, 2016 Jodi rated it it was ok
So over written. I felt like each extra useless word was glassing me in my face. ugh.
Bronwyn Rykiert
Dec 29, 2010 Bronwyn Rykiert rated it really liked it
This was a sad story but well told about a family gathering together for first time in a long time around the hospital bed of the father who has had a bad accident.

Mandy, the war correspondent, her husband Chris, brother Stephen sister Kathy and their mother Margaret. There is also Tony a wardsman who has an imagined connection to Mandy and he kept track of her stories on the news.

It was about coming home to your childhood home and struggling to connect with their emotions and about forgiveness
...more
Yvonne Cowell
Oct 11, 2008 Yvonne Cowell rated it really liked it
wonderful grasp of small town life in australia and the inner workings of a family during tragedy
background of crisis experienced by one daughter in war torn countries and then the isolation and ignorance of australians.of overseas political events.
memories of each child of their childhood which has stamped their character and the parents left an indelible mark ,
beautifully written ,some statements e.g.like australian boys enter adolescence and never come out are priceless
Gayle Powell
Feb 02, 2012 Gayle Powell rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
interesting read, liked the storyline, of adults all returning to the small country town that they had left behind years before. Their father has had a serious accident and they spend time in and out of the local hospital and supporting their mother, but it is not long before old hurts and feelings surface. Well written, I would read more of her works. Characters, although not exactly 'likeable' people, were very well drawn. Almost sinister at times, as tension mounts between them all.
Eilagh
Apr 18, 2015 Eilagh rated it did not like it
Easy read exploring dysfunctional family but really went nowhere bout little.
Michelle
May 04, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I was truly surprised that this book was an Australian book with Australian characters. Whilst not my favourite it was a nice easy read.
Karin
Dec 02, 2010 Karin rated it it was amazing
I randomly picked this up at the library and I am so happy I did. The language is beautifully evocative of an Australian small town. It touches on a few issues such as family relationships and the impact war has on those who report it. I will definitely be looking out for more of her work.
Flexnib
Feb 14, 2012 Flexnib rated it really liked it
It's hard to grow up.

The family relationships in this book are so finely drawn it was almost too painful to read. The father's dying and the children's reactions are all a bit close to home for me at the moment, too - which is why I think I just could not put this book down.
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