Summary and book reviews of The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

The Emperor's Children

by Claire Messud

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud X
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 496 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A dazzling, masterful novel about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way—and not—in New York City.

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 Emperor’s Children is a dazzling, masterful novel about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way—and not—in New York City.

There is beautiful, sophisticated Marina Thwaite—an “It” girl finishing her first book; the daughter of Murray Thwaite, celebrated intellectual and journalist—and 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 Murray’s nephew, Frederick “Bootie” Tubb, an idealistic college dropout determined to make his mark, comes to town. As the skies darken, it is Bootie’s unexpected decisions—and their stunning, heartbreaking outcome—that will change each of their lives forever.

A richly drawn, brilliantly observed novel of fate and fortune—of innocence and experience, seduction and self-invention; of ambition, including literary ambition; of glamour, disaster, and promise—The Emperor’s Children is a tour de force that brings to life a city, a generation, and the way we live in this moment.

Our Chef Is Very Famous in London

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.

“...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
ABOUT THIS GUIDE

The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are meant to enliven your group’s discussion of The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud’s richly plotted, densely populated comedy of manners and ideas. Like some of its high-profile antecedents, it’s set in New York City: not the august, whalebone-corseted New York of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence nor the brainy, feuding city of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift, but New York at the turn of the 21st century, when restaurants have taken the place of museums–and maybe even churches–and every new magazine launch is billed as the opening salvo of a revolution. It’...
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!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A well written comedy of manners that successfully skewers a particular strata of New York literary life.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review (488 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Elle
Messud’s ambitious, glamorous, and gutsy new novel, The Emperor’s Children, is a leap forward, a marvel of bold momentum and kinetic imagination.

Atlantic Monthly
Riveting . . . . A cheeky exposé of the pundit class in all its privileged splendor. .....Messud extracts considerable suspense from the young cultural pretenders’ attempts to topple the old guard . . . . An excellent read.

Publishers Weekly
Her writing is so fluid, and her plot so cleverly constructed, that events seem inevitable, yet the narrative is ultimately surprising and masterful as a contemporary comedy of manners.

Booklist
A stinging portrait of life among Manhattan's junior glitterati

Kirkus Reviews
A stinging portrait of life among Manhattan's junior glitterati....intelligent, evocative and unsparing.

Library Journal
The reader will be tugged in many directions as these characters' lives intersect in the realms of love, family, friendship, and tragedy.

Reader Reviews

rachelwf

overrated & slooooowwwwww
I really tried with this book. It had a very interesting plot & characters but the writer dragged sooo much with her writing, that I put it down less than a 1/3rd through. I know it's been reviewed as a real prize, but I could not finish it.

Bookworm

Too wordy
I also really tried with this book. The plot seemed interesting, but the writing was soooo wordy. Sentences seemed to drag on down the page. I had to reread sentences often. I only got through about a fourth of the book and gave up.

Write your own review!

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!

Beyond the Book

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...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

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!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Claire Messud

If you liked The Emperor's Children, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Southernmost
    by Silas House
    Southernmost opens with a devastating flood in Cumberland Valley, Tennessee. Could it be divine ...
  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
    by Andrea Bobotis

    A thoughtful and quintessentially Southern debut that unfolds like a magnolia.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.