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Extended Audio Sample The Children’s Book, by A. S. Byatt Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,207 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: A. S. Byatt Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the Booker Prize–winning, bestselling author of Possession—a deeply affecting story of a singular family 

When children’s book author Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of a museum, she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends. But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. The Wellwoods’ personal struggles and hidden desires unravel against a breathtaking backdrop of the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, as the Edwardian period dissolves into World War I and Europe’s golden era comes to an end.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Majestic…Dazzling…Wonderful…What you see here…is the strength and fire of Byatt’s imagination.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A fascinating literary achievement…[With a] captivating sense of language and narrative…A more genuine look at young adulthood than any teenage wizards could hope to provide.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “A kind of tragic fairy tale, and Byatt does fairy tales wonderfully.”


  • “Wonderful, engaging…A fine, rich, fully accomplished novel.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Uncompromisingly erudite…Like Possession, The Children’s Book is a tour de force of literary chameleonism and social history…[It] brings to vivid life the often irreconcilable demands of being an artist and being a human being.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A rich and ambitious work, steeped in ideas, and capped with a lacerating final act…Byatt’s penetrating, unsentimental style hits its mark. [The period] details are never less than fascinating.”


  • “A complete and complex world, a gorgeous bolt of fiction…The magic is in the way Byatt suffuses her novel with details, from the shimmery sets of a marionette show to clay mixtures and pottery glazes.”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “Rich, expansive…Byatt is a spinner of multiple tales, adding gorgeous layers and dimensions to this fictional world.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Intricately crafted, deeply satisfying…Encompassing in scope and watch-maker precise in detail…Fans of Possession, you’ve got yourself a new bedtime story.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Sweeping…A literary feast…Byatt fills a huge canvas with the political and social changes that swept the world in those years…She elicits great compassion of the individual beings caught in that tableau. It’s not a tale you’ll soon forget.”

    USA Today

  • “Spellbinding…Alive…Potent…Byatt is a master storyteller.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Supremely fulfilling…Wondrous…Rich with period detail and sublime storytelling…A mesmerizing exploration of, well, everything: families, secrets, love, innocence, corruption, art, the desire for knowledge, nature, politics, war, sex, power. Even puppetry.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Unforgettable…Eloquent…Majestic and immensely ambitious…with masterly skill and literary tact…A monument of a novel.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “A stunning achievement: a novel of ideas that crackles with passion, energy, and emotive force…I did not want The Children’s Book to end…I wanted more of this ambitious, compelling novel, certainly Byatt’s best since Possession, and possibly her best ever.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “[A] ravishing epic…This is a classic Byatt fusion of fact and uncannily luscious imagery, mixed in the ideal proportions: not too hot, not too cold—just right.”


  • “[A] masterpiece…Her best yet.”


  • “Fascinating…An exhilarating panorama…Passionate, intelligent…A richly peopled narrative that encompasses an unusual breadth of artistic, intellectual, social, and political concerns…[Byatt is] a master builder, laying each brick of her tower with consummate skill. Here is a novel in which everything matters.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[Byatt’s] magnum opus…Lushly detailed…Every stitch of this tapestry is connected to the whole.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Bristling with life and invention…A seductive work by an extraordinarily gifted writer.”

    Washington Post

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Winner of the 2009 James Tait Black Memorial Prize
  • Selected for the October 2009 Indie Next List
  • A 2009 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Marie | 1/29/2014

    " Although this book was not what I expected it to be, I can now say I have finished an A. S. Byatt novel. (I've attempted her novel Possession multiple times without success.) Given that I had to keep a dictionary handy for word definitions, I consider that an accomplishment. The immense number of undeveloped characters, the long passages of socialist history, and unsatisfying ending made this feel like a hollow victory. Sometimes persistence doesn't pay off. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Selene | 1/27/2014

    " What a disappointment! I thought this was going to be the book of the year! But in-between any good bits it was so dull! Gave up! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ruby Hollyberry | 1/23/2014

    " Absolutely wonderful. Much more approachable and understandable than Still Life or The Virgin in the Garden, plenty of attractive and sympathetic characters, and one of my favorite times and places to boot! I had loved every one of this author's books, some more and some less, but it was always love, until I tried to read Babel Tower. Horrible experience. Couldn't read the damn thing. Much too sick for me and I am not squeamish by most standards. It really destroyed my confidence in this author, which is why it has taken me this long to read this book. The Children's Book restored my faith in this author and then some!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by PJ Taylor | 1/20/2014

    " Just not my cup of tea. Zero likable characters and way too many of them! If not for Bookclub, I would not have made it the 200 pages I struggled through. "

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