Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

image from LibraryThing

I seem to be in a bit of a rut..books that I can't seem to get into. This was much more than that though. I just could not have cared less about these characters, nothing redeemed them.

The book follows 3 main characters around NYC for three months before 9/11 and another month after. Good premise, but...

Danielle is a documentary film maker loving her independence from her Indiana mom, Julius is a Vietnamese gay man from Michigan bent on living the good life and making waves in NYC without actually working, and Marina is the spoiled pampered daughter of a famous journalist known for his cutting edge truth, caught in his shadow and only sort of trying the shed it.

Sounds like a good beginning, but...

Danielle gets involved with Marina's dad (YUCK!) Yes, it' her best friend and he has been her father figure! Julius finally falls in love with the Down Jones workaholic Dave and ignores the other two - then decides that a 1 man relationship is too 1950s for him. Marina has been working on a stupid book about Children's fashion for 10 years and when she falls for Seely, a slimy, Australian who hates everybody and everything, but mostly Marina's father - she finally finishes it to her father and friends horror.

The title of this book comes from Marina's book. "The Emperor's Children have no Clothes" The book is supposed to trace human history through the way we dress our children.

The only character that seemed to have some potential was Bootie, Marina's 1st cousin. He comes to NYC to be near the famous Murray Thwaite (Marina's father) because he believes that Murray is an honest and thought provoking man after Emerson's ideal. What he finds is that behind the facade there is only an ordinary man. So, Bootie writes an article to uncover the facade. Even this could have been redeeming - but Bootie's reaction to 9/11 took away any redeeming qualities lurking in his story. Anyway - There isn't a character you like or root for - not really.

Instead I just kept reading to see what miserable lives these pretty people have. They are so busy making sure that they have no illusions, no pretend, sentimental beliefs that they are really nothing but a flat surface - reflecting what they think others want to see.

It did make the book mildly interesting to have been in NYC this past summer. I had seen many of the areas they talked about.

But - I would NOT recommend this book. That makes me very sad!

No comments: