The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

“An eloquent testament to the dangerous power of both art and myth.ā€ā€”Elizabeth Lowry, The Times Literary Supplement

Short listed for the Man Booker Prize

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prizeā€“winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museumā€”a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical talesā€”she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country houseā€”and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven childrenā€”conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these livesā€”of adults and children alikeā€”unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

Taking us from the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, The Children’s Book is a deeply affecting story of a singular family, played out against the great, rippling tides of the day. It is a masterly literary achievement by one of our most essential writers.

A.S. Byatt is internationally acclaimed as a novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her books include Possession and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. She was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 1999.

Meet the author on her book tour.