From a writer of near-miraculous perfection (The New York Times Book Review) and a literary intelligence far surpassing most other writers of her generation (San Francisco Chronicle), The Emperors Children is a dazzling, masterful novel about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their wayand notin New York City.
There is beautiful, sophisticated Marina Thwaitean It girl finishing her first book; the daughter of Murray Thwaite, celebrated intellectual and journalistand her two closest friends from Brown, Danielle, a quietly appealing television producer, and Julius, a cash-strapped freelance critic. The delicious complications that arise among them become dangerous when Murrays nephew, Frederick Bootie Tubb, an idealistic college dropout determined to make his mark, comes to town. As the skies darken, it is Booties unexpected decisionsand their stunning, heartbreaking outcomethat will change each of their lives forever.
A richly drawn, brilliantly observed novel of fate and fortuneof innocence and experience, seduction and self-invention; of ambition, including literary ambition; of glamour, disaster, and promiseThe Emperors Children is a tour de force that brings to life a city, a generation, and the way we live in this moment.
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Darlings! Welcome! And you must be Danielle?” Sleek and small, her wide eyes rendered enormous by kohl, Lucy Leverett, in spite of her resemblance to a baby seal, rasped impressively. Her dangling fan earrings clanked at her neck as she leaned in to kiss each of them, Danielle too, and although she held her cigarette, in its mother-of-pearl holder, at arm’s length, its smoke wafted between them and brought tears to Danielle’s eyes.
Danielle didn’t wipe them, for fear of disturbing her makeup. Having spent half an hour putting on her face in front of the grainy mirror of Moira and John’s bathroom, ogling her imperfections and applying vigorous remedial spackle—beneath which her weary, olive-shaped eyes were pouched by bluish bags, the curves of her nostrils oddly red, and her high forehead peeling—she had no intention of revealing to strangers the disintegration beneath her paint.
A well written comedy of manners that successfully skewers a particular strata of New York literary life.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (825 words).
When asked what The Emperor's Children is about Claire Messud replies.... "That's a big question. I don't think I have a simple answer. What's it about? I hope it's about what it's like to be alive in a certain place in a certain time. It's about a group of people with certain aspirations and expectations and limitations, and the way they contend with what is thrown at them. Probably in my mind it's about ambition, and what it means, or meant, and didn't, in that particular historical moment. And about confronting limitations. And about making a self. All those things. As for where the...
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