Excerpt from The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Children's Book

A Novel

by A.S. Byatt

The Children's Book
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 688 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2010, 896 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Come in," said the grimy boy, at the opening of a small storeroom, making a welcoming gesture, possibly mocking, with an arm. The storeroom contained what appeared to be a small stone hut, carved and ornamented with cherubim and seraphim, eagles and doves, acanthus and vines. It had its own little metal gate, with traces of gilding on the rusting iron.

"Convenient," said Philip. "It has a stone bed. I took the liberty of borrowing some sacks to keep warm. I'll put 'em back, naturally, where I found them."

"It's a tomb or shrine," said Julian. "Russian, by the look of it. There must have been some saint on that table, in a glass case or a reliquary. He might still be in there, underneath, his bones that is, if he wasn't incorrupt."

"I haven't noticed him," said Philip, flatly. "He hasn't bothered me."

Tom said "Are you hungry? What do you eat?"

"Once or twice I got to help in the tea-room, moving plates and washing them. People leave a lot on their plates, you'd be surprised. And the young ladies from the Art School took notice of my drawings and sometimes they passed me a sandwich. I don't beg. I did steal one, once, when I was desperate, an egg-and-cress sandwich. I were pretty sure the young lady had no intention of eating it."

He paused.

"It isn't much," he said. "I'm hungry, yes."

He was rummaging behind the tomb in the shrine, and came out with another canvas satchel, a sketch-book, a candle stub and what looked like a roll of clothing, tied with string.

"How did you get in?" Julian persisted.

"Followed the horses and carts. You know, they turn in and drive down a ramp into these underground parts. And they unload and pack things with a deal of bustle, and it's easy enough to mingle wi' them, wi' the carters and lads, and get in."

"And the upstairs door?" Julian queried. "Which is meant to be locked at all times."

"I came across a little key."

"Came across?"

"Aye. Came across. I'll give it back. Here, take it."

Tom said "It must be horribly frightening, down here alone at night."

"Not near so frightening as t'streets in t'East End. Not near."

Julian said "Please come with me now. You must come and explain all this to my father. He's talking to Tom's mother. This is Tom. Tom Wellwood. I'm Julian Cain."

Excerpted from The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt Copyright © 2009 by A.S. Byatt. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.