Sessily's Reviews > The Man Who Loved Children

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
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's review
Feb 21, 2011

Read in March, 2011

This is the most enjoyable (and ultimately satisfying) novel about thoroughly unlikable people I have yet read. The man of the title, Sam Pollit, hides his totalitarian rule over his children behind goofiness and baby-talk, while his bitter and disappointed wife, Henny, goes on long, hateful tirades. Stuck in the middle are their children, each struggling in their individual ways to make sense of the world and the vicious push-pull of their parents. Sounds enjoyable, right? Sam, especially, frustrated me and once he made his appearance (on p. 16 of the edition I read) I was somewhat skeptical of my ability to tolerate him enough to make it all the through to the last pages. But despite being the man of the title, Sam, in my opinion, isn’t the protagonist. That role is reserved for Louisa or Louie, the eldest of the children. As the novel begins, Louie is starting to see through her father’s authority and her struggle for independence continues to the last pages. Unlike the constant, seething conflict between Henny and Sam, which forms the backdrop of life for the entire family, the conflict between Louie and Sam offers some hope for change. As a result, the novel most comes to life in the latter half of the book when this conflict (which builds throughout the first half) comes to the fore.

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