Thursday, February 01, 2007
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
There's lots to like in this novel. Messud is exceptionally good at staying in the moment--paying close attention to the thoughts and actions of a character and slowing down real time via metaphor and language. What interested me most overall was how she takes the familiar structure of a group of friends who seemingly are going to add a new member to their midst, but she keeps the new member, Bootie in this case, outside the group (he never actually becomes their friend) so there is a constant tension between him and the members of the group. Each of the main characters has their own rise and fall of a story arc, but Bootie provides a structure for the whole novel--his exit from the group's midst makes for a very pleasing sense of closure at the end of the novel (just as his entrance made for a good beginning). I didn't quite buy the end, but that didn't seem to matter so much since I'd bought all the rest.