A book that ends with a warm soup is comforting – together with all the other emotions The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt evokes. I was lucky to hear the author read from this book in Berlin and plunged into the world of Olive, Humphry, Major Cain and his friend, the ceramic artist Benedict Fludd and their children. It is a time of change and upheaval in Britain and Germany, portrayed through this microcosm of people in search of fulfilment that isn’t always found – or sometimes – in the case of Philip and his sister Elsie – found in the most unexpected circumstances. Lives are intertwined and families aren’t always the safe heaven they are supposed to be. The title reveals the author’s great empathy for her children characters, and it is often heartbreaking to read what one misunderstanding, a bully or a war can do to (very young) people.
I recommend this book – a slow read – for long winter evenings and as a present to really good friends and to your family, of course – either in the English original or the translation Das Buch der Kinder by Melanie Walz, advisor on all things related to Munich/Bavaria and creator of the German version.