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The Emperor's Children
The Emperor's Children
Author: Claire Messud
Three college buddies, Marina, Danielle, and Julian, are nearing 30, and their dreams of artistic and intellectual success have not panned out. Their lives increasingly revolve around Marina's wealthy father, Murray, the embodiment of what they are striving to be: talented, witty, and well-heeled. Into the mix come two interlopers, Ludovic and B...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780307276667
ISBN-10: 030727666X
Publication Date: 6/26/2007
Pages: 528
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.

2.8 stars, based on 286 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 18
Up to the fall of the World Trade Center in the last 50 or so pages, this book blew my mind. Chronicling the lives of three college friends now thirty and living in New York and struggling to come to terms with their own limitations while at the same time trying to change the world in some way, Messud's language is brilliant. Simultaneously, there exists a sense of entitlement drawn from their ivy league educations...urban revolutionists without a revolution. In the post-9/11 chapters however, it seems hurried in a wholly unsettling way. Though none of the characters are completely unlikeable, none of them are really all that likable either; their entitlement becomes distracting while their ambition is all but abandoned.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on
Helpful Score: 17
I excitedly picked up this book, looking forward to an enjoyable read about characters in the same time in life as myself. Unfortunately, I found myself continuing to read this novel and waiting: waiting for something, anything that might create some movement within the stories. I waited all the way to the last page and never found what I was looking for.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
My mother-in-law gave me this book when I told her I was spending a lot of time reading with the baby at my breast. Like a lot of novels, it had acclaims printed all over it, and three full pages of critic quotes praising it at the beginning. However, for me it failed to deliver. The beginning kind of dragged, for one. Also, the author tended to write her character's thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness format that was incredibly hard to follow. She would start a sentance with a thought, then interrupt it with a second thought, then a third, then maybe a fourth, and then finish up the first thought. It was very hard to follow. Also, her characters were, for the most part, incredibly hard to sympathize with. The main characters were in their 30s and selfish, entitled, and bratty. I wanted to smack the lot of them. I think the reason the book got such rave reviews is that it takes place in 2001, from March to November, and the climax is the September 11th attacks. I had to work hard to get myself in a pre-9/11 mindset for the beginning of the book, and when the attacks came I was as shocked as the characters. Without including the horror of September 11th, her book would have been a tremendous disappointment. With it, the story was almost redeemed. Almost. I think the melancholy nature of many of the characters through the book affected my own post-partum mood.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This was not one of my favorite selections. I thought it rambled on in many places and found myself skimming through pages to get to the point. Just not my cup of tea.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
This book started off intresting but turned dull towards the middle. I had a hard time finishing it and it wasn't worth my time.
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reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 92 more book reviews
Interesting, but somewhat remote about the characters. I never really cared about them. They seemed superficial.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 289 more book reviews
In The Emperor's Children, a grand comedy of manners, He-With-No-Clothes is Murray Thwaite, a famous liberal journalist and pundit whose reputation is based on moral integrity. Although the blurb suggests it is about three friends on the cusp of their thirties, I found that this novel revolves around him. One of the friends is his beautiful daughter Marina; the other two are her college friends from Brown. Much like Ian McEwan's writing, it focuses on the flaws of well fleshed-out characters, but a rotating set consisting of perhaps too many, leading to some loose ends. I found myself admiring Claire Messud's craft, manipulating ideas and language, but found myself aware of it, and not caring too much about the characters as people. Nonetheless, it was a well-constructed novel set in New York which I read through rather quickly.
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From The New Yorker
In this witty examination of New York's chattering classes, which opens in the spring of 2001, the despot of the title is Murray Thwaite, a famous journalist who made his name in the Vietnam era. The next generation, however, is having trouble gaining traction. Murray's daughter, Marina, unable to complete a long-overdue book on the cultural significance of children's clothing, has moved back into her parents' Upper West Side apartment and is doing a lot of yoga. Her two best friendsDanielle, a television producer, and Julius, a gay freelance criticare similarly ambitious and entitled, without being particularly driven. All three find sex the easiest way to transform themselves. Only Murray's brainy and profoundly disenfranchised nephew from upstate aggressively pursues his belief in the true and the good, but he proves to be a sort of literary terrorist, threatening to blow the family apart. The humorous intimacies of Messud's portraits do not, finally, soften the judgments behind them: If this is what's become of the liberal imagination, is it worth fighting for?
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