Corinne's Reviews > The Emperor's Children

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
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Jul 28, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: lance-recommend
Recommended for: everyone.
Read in July, 2007

It's a testament to Messud's writing that a book filled with characters I dislike drew me into the story so furiously. While I could recognize any one of them in a crowd, I can't say I identify with a single character. Marina, Ludo, Danielle, Murray, Julius, and especially Bootie are all people I would trip over myself to get away from in a crowded train car. Anabel and Randy, both mothers completely devoted to their families, are the only characters I wouldn't run from if they came alive off the page.

Why, then, was I so invested in their stories? The writing, so vivid and alive, reminds me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History - another book with an array of awful people doing despicable things. There's something about stories like this, driven more by characters and an event than a story arc, that make the slow unfurling of action so intimate. Towards the end of the book, I was unable to stop the anxious knot in my belly, both hoping that something awful and good would happen simultaneously to everyone involved.
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