Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review: The Emperor's Children

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

The story follows three friends all approaching 30. All feeling like they can and want to do something important with their lives. All unsure of exactly what and how to get started. The ambition is there, but they lack the drive. The book opens in March 2001 in New York City. And as the story progresses, 9/11 hangs heavy in the future for the characters.

Marina struggles to come out from her father Murray's - the emperor - shadow and find her own place. Danielle's ideas for television shows get shot down and she doesn't have the backbone to pursue what she thinks would be great. Julius gets exactly what he wants only to learn getting what you want at whatever cost is dangerous.

What's great about this book is that the characters are beautifully flawed. They're real. We know that what they do is a terrible idea, but because they do it anyway, they're much more realistic. Anyone can see a part of themselves in some part of a character. It might make us uncomfortable to look into the mirror and see our flaws, but sometimes it's the best way to learn.

I found this to be an enjoyable book that was easy to read. Though a warning, have a dictionary nearby. It was rare a chapter I read that I didn't have two or three words I wanted to look up the definition.

Next month - The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

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