'This was the Wellwoods’ third Midsummer Party. Their guests were socialists, anarchists, Quakers, Fabians, artists, editors, freethinkers and writers, who lived, either all the time, or at weekends and on holidays, in converted cottages and old farmhouses, Arts and Crafts homes and working-men’s terraces, in the villages, woods and meadows around the Kentish Weald and South Downs. These were people who had evaded the Smoke, and looked forward to a Utopian world in which smoke would be no more.'
I read ravenously in 2010-still nothing caught my attention quite like A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book
"It will probably never be said of Byatt's writing that she wears her learning lightly, and her lengthy disquisitions on the building blocks of her narrative both support and bloat the novel; her briskly delivered but expansive accounts of, among other things, the development of London's museums, of late Victorian banking crises, of pottery and puppetry and of the Arts and Crafts, Fabian and suffrage movements are never less than informative but sometimes a little less than compelling. (...) But Byatt is brilliant on the gathering forces of England and Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, their contrasting attitudes towards the part that the land plays in the collective unconscious, their differing forms of nostalgia." - Alex Clark, The Guardian
Here, illustrated from the imaginings of the Pre-Raphaelites.
"You know, it's a truism that writers for children must still be children themselves,
deep down, must still feel childish feelings, and a child's surprise at the world. "
"She didn't like to be talked about. Equally, she didn't like not to be talked about, when the high-minded chatter rushed on as though she was not there. There was no pleasing her, in fact. She had the grace, even at eleven, to know there was no pleasing her. She thought a lot, analytically, about other people's feelings, and had only just begun to realize that this was not usual, and not reciprocated."
The story books were kept in a glass-faced cabinet in Olive’s study. Each child had a book, and each child had his or her own story. It had begun, of course, with Tom, whose story was the longest. Each story was written in its own book, hand-decorated with struck-on scraps and coloured patterns. Tom’s was inky-blue-black, covered with ferns and brackens, some real, dried and pressed, some cut out of gold and silver paper. Dorothy’s was forest-green, covered with the nursery scraps of small creatures, hedgehogs, rabbits, mice, bluetits and frogs.
Phyllis’s was rose-pink and lacy, with scraps of gauzy-winged fairies in florid dresses, sweet-peas and bluebells, daises and pansies. Hedda’s was striped in purple, green and white, with silhouettes of witches and dragons. Florian’s book was only little, a nice warm red, with Gather Christmas and a yule log.
‘It is a terrible thing to be a woman. You are told people like to look at you – as though you have a duty to be the object of…the object of… And then, afterwards, if you are rejected, if what you…thought you were worth…is after all not wanted…you are nothing.’
She gave a little shrug, and pulled herself together, and said, ‘Poor Elsie,’ in an artificial, polite, tea-party voice, though she had not offered, and did not offer, to make tea.
Christopher Dresser Linthorpe Vase
These children, Julian thought, had been charmed and bamboozled as though some Pied Piper played his tune and they all followed him, docile, under the earth. The Germans had sunk the liner, Lusitania, and Charles Frohman, the impresario who had staged Peter Pan, had drowned with gallant dignity, apparently reciting the immortal line which had been judiciously cut from wartime performances: To die will be an awfully big adventure.
there were many wonderful books I read, what was your favorite? read The Children's Book?
explore the Pre-Raphaelites this year.