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The Children

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  421 ratings  ·  59 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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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  421 ratings  ·  59 reviews


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Mish
Oct 01, 2011 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
Dale Harcombe
Dec 26, 2012 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
Helen King
May 15, 2015 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 06, 2015 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
Lesley Moseley
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a well-written, book of real people. VERY graphic memories of being a war correspondent by the eldest daughter, the falling into their younger sibling roles, and old memories long buried all come to a life changing scene. Fabulous author. It was even better this second reading.
Steve lovell
Jun 19, 2010 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
Jillwilson
Nov 29, 2011 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
Brenda
May 31, 2011 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
Catherine
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully paced story had me from the first chapter, the tension builds adeptly til the final climax. Highly recommend!
Carolyn Mck
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a short way into this novel I realised I'd read it before but it was well worth reading again. The basic idea of adult children coming together for an accident, a death, a funeral or even a celebration is not new but Wood breathes life into this common theme through her astute observations of behaviour and her insights into the dynamics of family, especially where siblings have all taken very different directions in life.

In this case the children have come together because their fath
...more
jhldjfau
Feb 27, 2012 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
Lisa
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, c21st
The Children is an unfortunate title; it’s not appealing and it made me leave this book unread on the TBR for quite some time. Yet it’s a clever title, because the adult protagonists of this novel behave exactly like children do: they’re immature, impulsive, selfish and irrational. Just like people, just like children.

Uncharacteristically, I wrote about this book a fortnight after reading it, and found myself not able to remember all the characters very well. This was not entirely my memory laps
...more
Jo
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Natural Way of Things and LOVING it, I looked up some of Charlotte Wood's other books and found this one. It certainly reinforced my opinion that she is one of the best Australian authors out there at the moment, and worth seeking out.
Her writing is beautifully structured and evocative, bringing complex scenes and characters to life in only a few well crafted sentences. This book is set in an Australian country town, and centres around a family of children who have grown up and
...more
Robyn
Oct 24, 2012 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
Sam
I loved this book, but then again I love everything Charlotte Wood writes. I find her writing so vivid - her descriptions of this Australian family and the environment just take me home every time, although I hope not to have any sort of experience similar to that which appears in the book! It is just so wonderful to be able to read novels set in this decade, in my own country. Woods prose and her ability to place you in the story are outstanding. Nothing else matters for the hours/days it will ...more
Yvonne Boag
Jul 04, 2012 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
Kirstie
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Tracey
Dec 13, 2011 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
Bronwyn Rykiert
Dec 29, 2010 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 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
Christabel Seneque
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, fiction
Well-observed dialogue, and the interactions between the siblings are achingly real. I loved how the setting was clearly Australian, but without trying too hard. I was really impressed by this, and deeply moved.
Flexnib
Feb 11, 2012 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.
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.
Caren
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The portrait of the Connelly family, the mother and her three adult children sitting at the bedside of their comatose father in Intensive Care, is one many readers can relate to. His impending death, their focus on the beeps of the machine that keep him breathing, brings together these siblings after years of distance between them- both physical and emotional. Wood's skill in exploring the relationships of each sibling to the parents and to each other is the strength of this remarkably perceptiv ...more
Wonderkell
I love Charlotte Wood's work. The characters in her novels always ring so incredibly true to me, and no matter how likeable or hateful they are it is easy to recognize something of ourselves, of the Australian identity, in each one.

The Children is a bittersweet journey through terrible grief to the other side, and I guess for me asked the questions: What is forgiveness & do we have to give it? What is memory when it is so different to those around you? And ultimately, what is grief & wh
...more
Gail
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can identify closely with the characters, location, setting of this book. It accurately tells of the feelings, hurt, sadness and love in a family that is exploded in traumatic time of death of a father
Leeza Baric
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fiction that feels real!

As my father fades away before my eyes, his children (my brother & sisters & I) are dealing with our past & dynamics of our relationships. Charlotte’s gifted with making fiction feel real. Insightful & beautifully written. Thank you.
Linda
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book hits several points; loss of a parent and reflection back to childhood, anger and lack of communication between family members but really stresses the effect of PTSD on all family members.
Good read great writer.
Kelly Vardy
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Compelling. Still not sure I "liked" this book yet I could not put it down.
George
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. The novel is about siblings in a dysfunctional family who are brought together in their country town house after their father has a tragic accident. Stephen, an administrator in the police force, Cathy and Mandy, a war correspondent are forced to spend unaccustomed time together and with their mother, Margaret. The life in a country town several hours drive north west of Sydney, Australia, is very well described. Mandy, who has lived through some extremely traumatic events, finds hers ...more
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The Australian newspaper has described Charlotte Wood as "one of our most original and provocative writers.”

She is the author of five novels and a book of non-fiction. Her latest novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Indie Book of the Year and Indie Fiction Book of the Year prizes, was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and longlisted for the Mil
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