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The Emperor's Children Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307264190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307264190
  • ASIN: 030726419X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Marina Thwaite, Danielle Minkoff and Julian Clarke were buddies at Brown, certain that they would soon do something important in the world. But as all near 30, Danielle is struggling as a TV documentary maker, and Julius is barely surviving financially as a freelance critic. Marina, the startlingly beautiful daughter of celebrated social activist, journalist and hob-nobber Murray Thwaite, is living with her parents on the Upper West Side, unable to finish her book"titled The Emperor's Children Have No Clothes (on how changing fashions in children's clothes mirror changes in society). Two arrivals upset the group stasis: Ludovic, a fiercely ambitious Aussie who woos Marina to gain entrée into society (meanwhile planning to destroy Murray's reputation), and Murray's nephew, Frederick "Bootie" Tubb, an immature, idealistic college dropout and autodidact who is determined to live the life of a New York intellectual. The group orbits around the post"September 11 city with disconcerting entitlement"and around Murray, who is, in a sense, the emperor. Messud, in her fourth novel, remains wickedly observant of pretensions"intellectual, sexual, class and gender. Her writing is so fluid, and her plot so cleverly constructed, that events seem inevitable, yet the narrative is ultimately surprising and masterful as a contemporary comedy of manners. 100,00 announced first printing; author tour.(Sept. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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 friends—Danielle, a television producer, and Julius, a gay freelance critic—are 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 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

The characters are not likeable.
Amy D.
I hated all the characters in this book, but I felt like the author also disliked them so I read on to see what she was going to do with them.
J. O'Neill
I found it very boring and I really didn't like any of the characters.
K.S. Chicago

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ezra Klein on December 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Every so often, I check into the review page for The Emperor's Children, just to see if anything has changed. I remember stopping by the first time, and being shocked by the poor reviews, and assuming it had to be a temporary twist of the numbers, that the universe will certainly right itself soon enough.

Well, it hasn't. I won't argue with anyone's experiences of the book -- that's far beyond what I can offer. I will say that, as a journalist in DC, it's far and away the most accurate examination of the Eastern intellectual class that I've encountered. Messud is a gorgeous writer whose scenes are deeply observed and hauntingly constructed. The world of the book is specific, to be sure, and it's possible, as you see in the reviews, that many won't relate. But if you went to a small liberal arts college; if you're fascinated, or resentful, or appalled, or attracted, by the pretensions of the self-styled intellectual set; if you like sharply written banter; you can hardly do better than this book.
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374 of 451 people found the following review helpful By D. West VINE VOICE on December 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since many reviewers have discussed the story line in detail, I will stick with my overall impressions of what I consider an extremely over hyped disappointing read.

In my opinion, none of the main characters are anywhere near as adorable as the author keeps insisting they are. Their most notable characteristic is a non-stop (and rather interchangeable) flow of campy repartee that might convey intellect, success, pretension, heartbreak, or whatever to someone steeped in their milieu but which kept me at a considerable emotional distance. The doomed idol, Murray Thwaite, in particular is dreadfully flimsy - is this the author's dream of an articulate, handsome, talented, unattainable (for others who wish to be him) Golden Boy. This sort of wish fulfillment at the reader's expense is simply unpalatable to the serious consumer. And, if this was to be a tongue in cheek attempt at humor, it fell far short of the mark.

I agree with other reviewers. It appears the author likes very long sentences; many paragraphs are absolutely incomprehensible. Are we to be impressed with the overuse of commas and dependent clauses so that it often takes two or three readings to render a sentence understandable? If this is the new era of grown-up writing, I'll stick to my mysteries and nonfiction.

But, I kept at it hoping that Messud would indeed pull it off in the end; however, the ending too was quite unsatisfactory. And, the use of the 9/11 tragedy to try to wrap it up is unforgivable. If so many New Yorkers of this age group truly were so wrapped in their own petty self-absorptions during this time period, God save our country. Could any of the characters see outside their own small contrived world? It would appear not. I won't be reading any more of Messud's work.
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85 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Gary Malone on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
You've really got to worry about a novel when a *favourable* reviewer describes the plot's two main set pieces and one of them is when the cat dies. [The Economist, 19 Aug 2006.] Before getting into that, however, try this sample sentence for size:

"He remembered his father's telling him - his father, small as he was himself tall, with sloping shoulders off which Murray feared, as a child, the braces might slip, a bow-tied little man with an almost Hitlerian mustache, softened from menace by its grayness, and by the softness, insidious softness, of his quiet voice, a softness that belied his rigidity and tireless industry, his humorless and ultimately charmless 'goodness' (Why had she married him? She'd been so beautiful, and such fun) - telling him, as he deliberated on his path at Harvard, to choose accounting, or economics, saying, with that dreaded certainty, 'You see, Murray, I know you want to go out and write books or something like that. But only geniuses can be writers, Murray, and frankly son ...'"

[p. 124]

See what I mean about size? Reviewers have already complained about the author's self-interrupting, drunkenly digressive prose style. They are entirely correct to do so. Claire Messud's book is festooned with sentences which are essentially motorway pile-ups of sub-clauses, codicils and parenthetical interpolations. Such a rookie mistake - which makes for hopelessly cumbersome reading - should never have made it past the editor.

The Emperor's Children concerns the lives of Danielle, Marina and Julius, three thirtysomething New York literati and their patriarch, the essayist Murray Thwaite, Marina's father.
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Bianchini Francesco on August 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The authoress gave the best review of her own stuff. Quoting from page 322: " Call me old-fashioned, but in my world a book-if only on account of the trees chopped down to produce it; but for many other reasons as well-should justify its existence. It must have a raison d'être. I just don't see one here. I'm sorry".
What remains a mystery to me is how this manuscript made its way into mainstream publishing and moreover got such hyperbolic praise. Is there a "literary" mafia?
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ellen on July 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
I don't mind reading about characters that are unsympathetic and dull -- if the story has a point. Unfortunately, this book has no story. The author adequately illustrates the nature of narcissism, vanity, and wanton conceit; but her theme runs around in circles (tediously!) and never goes anywhere. She dangles plot lines that never ripen, and allows all the characters to remain static, essentially unchanged by the events that unfold.

The movie "Election" is a good example of how entertaining static characters can be when the storyteller merges cynicism with wit. Cynicism merged with poignancy is also compelling. Too bad for Massud that her cynicism is flaccid and aimless. I kept waiting for the pay-off that never came.

The story could have worked perhaps as a tale of cultural malaise, but Massud does't have the edge and scope of an author like Tom Wolfe.

And I can only marvel at the breathless review printed on the back cover that praises the author for being flawless and elegant... I actually found myself highlighting sentences in the book and reading them to my husband at night -- for a good laugh! I can't recall ever reading so many clunky, tortured, obtuse sentences in a published book.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! I can't locate some of my favorites because I encountered them while reading without a pen in hand, but here are a couple of samples:

From page 194: "Although possibly, it's true, thinking about all she couldn't say -- which boiled down to "Bootie, come home!" -- rather than about what he was actually whispering (he did fairly whisper, because his voice was naturally low, and because he didn't want the Thwaites to be disturbed) in her addled ear.
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