The Emperor’s Children is the most “adult” book I’ve read this year. Every character is mired in his/her own sense of inadequacies, be they real or imagined. From the self-possessed Marina who strives for a name beyond that of her famous father to the hapless Bootie, whose idealism threatens his own destruction, Messud presents a cast of characters varied and beset with personal demons.
Messud blindsided me by incorporating national tragedy in the plot line. I found myself hoping the characters would be able to shake themselves from their narcissistic stupor by the sheer force of history in the making. I wanted them to transcend an agnosticism that seemed as pervasive in this novel as Sunday-go-to-meeting in my own life.
I found the characters rich, fraught with problems of their own making, and multi-dimensional. The jacket calls this novel a “tour de force”. I usually scoff at such, but in this case, Messud delivers.
Rocky Rates It: 5/5 Stars