Book Reviews of The Emperor's Children

The Emperor's Children
The Emperor's Children
Author: Claire Messud
ISBN-13: 9780307264190
ISBN-10: 030726419X
Publication Date: 8/29/2006
Pages: 448
Rating:
  • Currently 2.4/5 Stars.
 49

2.4 stars, based on 49 ratings
Publisher: Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

24 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I tried to like this book, but the style it was written in was so over the top. I felt like the author was purposefully using elaborate words and very long sentences to make the reader feel....well....stupid.

The story dragged a bit and could have been told much more clearly.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I did not like this book. It was depressing, draining, and just a waste of time when there are so many other good books out there to read. There were touches of John Updike but something about it did not flow. I found the rave reviews to be over the top.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 275 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I did not much care for this story of "coming of age" spoiled children in New York, although I did like it well enough to finish it. The best part for me was the author's use of fabulous words which sent me to the dictionary a few times.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 337 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Definitely a clever novel but one that, to me, begs the question - can't a serious novel be enjoyable to read? I'm well-read but the language had me reading with a dictionary at hand. The book seemed as self-absorbed as the characters it chronicled. I'm sorry, I know this book is wildly popular, but I was glad to be done with it.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The author is a gifted writer, although she reminds readers of this too often with uncommon words and complex sentence structures. Most times, simpler choices would have been better.

While the sex scenes and drug use did further the story, they made me not want to read the book in public in case someone was reading over my shoulder.

I was interested enough to see how the book ended, but I have no intention of ever reading it again.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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 + 46 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A great read. Nothing too deep, but I found myself thinking about the characters. Definitely worth it.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just loved the title. The book wasn't bad either. Worth the time.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on
Helpful Score: 1
"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."

An excellent example of post-September Eleventh literature. The characters are interesting and well-drawn, if not always likable.

A great read.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Had a hard time getting into this book, but my Mom enjoyed it.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 331 more book reviews
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?
Copyright © 2006
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.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 23 more book reviews
Read almost 100 pages and just could not get into it. It is wonderfully written but I just could not connect with any of the characters. None of them interested me. It did get good reviews so it just might be me...
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 2 more book reviews
I enjoyed the characters and felt that they were richly developed. They were complex, and each had both redeeming and condeming qualities. I did not find it to ramble, like others that reviewed this book.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 3 more book reviews
I found this to be a very interesting read. It was very well written and I liked it stylistically. It seemed as if much of the book was narrated through the thought processes of the characters, as if they were just thinking outloud, which was intriguing, but caused many of the sentences to trail on. While it did help character development, I sometimes got lost in myriad thoughts and endless run on sentences. The characters were above all, very human, essentially good people stumbling through life as they could, by turns endearing and utterly infuriating. Overall, a very engrossing book, and one I had trouble putting down.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 4 more book reviews
Thought it was very good.
reviewed The Emperor's Children on + 15 more book reviews
I liked it, but I never felt a connection with any of the characters.
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 + 3 more book reviews
If you are in your 20s-40s and live in a big city, this book is for you.