Szplug's Reviews > The Children of Men

The Children of Men by P.D. James
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's review
Feb 21, 2011

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I saw the film adaptation of P. D. James' dystopian tale on television last night - with Caine and Owen reliably excellent - for the third or fourth time; and it reminded me, yet again, how much I'd enjoyed the novel upon which it was (loosely) based. James is one of those middle-aged female British writers - Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine is another - who put their seemingly endless supply of interesting, somewhat dark stories to the page with a considerable amount of subtlety and elegance stuffed into what otherwise appears to be simple and clean prose. If the general tone of a United Kingdom under the sort of eschatologically despotic government depicted initially strikes one as being a bit too placid and routine, perhaps, with the end date of the human race so signally visible and neither the atheistic nor religious segment of the populace able to claim aught but defeat from the definitive sign of a God's grace which either never existed in the first place, or has clearly been removed with extreme prejudice, James actually managed to find the pulse of the weary, apathetic torpor that would be engendered, replete with zero tolerance for any (overt) acts of criminality and a keenly felt desire to ensure that the imminent extinction of humanity was accompanied by a great deal of cheap, mindless fun.

James' Oxford don Theo exemplifies this voluntary abandonment from the affairs of the world with a nicely portrayed controlled despair, having had ample encouragement to join the autocratic Wardenship of his opportunistic cousin and finding himself no longer welcome when such an influential position would do his band of Fishies the most good. Wild tribes of young people having returned to the untamed lure of the forest; machinations surrounding control of the lone and miraculous pregnancy discovered amidst an island of infertility; the cousin-vs-cousin showdown with a crying baby - the noisome sound of the future awakening from a terrifying final sleep - providing the musical score; James handles it all with a professional and assured aplomb. An excellent way to while away an otherwise useless winter day.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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William1 Excellent review.

Szplug Thanks, William (he said months later, pleading complete lack of notification of William's pleasant comment for what could otherwise only be deemed an inexcusably late acknowledgement).

William1 Nah. Such are the peculiarities of the GR site. (!)

message 4: by Szplug (last edited Mar 09, 2012 04:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Szplug I appreciate that, William, and you're right on the money, too—I've had that ghost book lingering in my currently-reading shelf for over two months now.

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