Sunday, June 22, 2008

Book Review Brief: The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

Just finished this 430-page puppy last night. In a word, it was LAME. I bought it because it was a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. I don't think I'll ever trust that list again. The only part I liked was the fact that it had some terrific diction. Not only did I not know what some words meant, I had never even seen some of those words in my life! Amanuensis? Suppurative? There were probably at least 25 words that were completely foreign to me.

HOWEVER, the author was so incredibly long-winded when giving her descriptions of things. I appreciate an intricately described scene or person or thing, but come on. There were some sentences that were the length of entire paragraphs. And the story...THE STORY! Terribly unsatisfying. At the end of 430 pages (small type, tightly spaced, btw) I would hope that the ending would provide some sort of payoff. This wasn't even close.

I'm glad I got through it, but bummed that it really wasn't a great book. This review by a reader at sums up some of the things I too disliked about the book.

I'm on to Cormac McCarthy's The Road now. It's already more engaging than The Emperor's Children. It happens to be an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection, but that's not why I chose it. I chose it because it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007. Here's a list of other prize-winning books (Pulitzer and otherwise) if you're interested.

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