L's Reviews > The Emperor's Children

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
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's review
Aug 20, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: over-rated
Recommended for: Brown graduates in their early 30s living in Manhattan
Read in September, 2007

After finally finishing this book in an agonizing three days, I read the NYT book review on line to try to figure out why the NYT would consider this book is notable. Evidently, Massud is a "writer's writer" and the reviewer herself was a Brown graduate in her '30s.

Not being either a writer or a Brown graduate, and being in the later half of my 30's, nothing in this book grabbed or amused me, save, perhaps, the character of Julius. This is due in part to the forced use of "10 cent words" when others would do (and likely resonate more clearly as vocabulary used by well-educated 30s english majors living in Manhattan sponging off of their parents; not their 50-60 year old parents). Next, the narrator's voice overshadows the development of the characters to the point where each character had very limited depth (again, save Julius, however his depth was stereotypical disillusioned gay man in Manhattan unable to maintain a relationship having meaningless sex in odd places for the thrill of it). Lastly, the character of Ludo Seeley, who is presented as a villan is also never developed either as villainous or as an Australian (his lack of Australian-ness, or anything other than the same portrayal as the other characters was one of the more amusing points of the book). He's just as bland as the rest. There is nothing sympathetic about any of these characters; nor is there much to hate.

The overall effect is that the sentence structure, conversations, and language used by each character are simply implausible and frankly, not terribly insightful or interesting. The reactions and responses to the critical event in the last 20 pages or so are passingly interesting but definitely not worth the wait.
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05/24/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Susan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Susan I've heard of this - interested to see what you think as you get further into it. How do I get this "virtual bookgroup" to show me comments from the rest of your group?

message 2: by Sanjay (new)

Sanjay Varma I love it when you complain that Ludo Seeley was never developed as a villain or an Australian!

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