**** The Emperor's Children By Claire Messud
A Manhattan fairytale, 9/11 style.
In a social satire for the 21st century, Claire Messud follows three friends, all Brown University graduates approaching 30, looking to make their mark as the cultural elite of a new generation. Marina, the beautiful daughter of Murray Thwaite--journalist, social fixture, activist, and the emperor of the book's title--struggles to finish a book on children's clothing fashions and society from her parents' Upper West Side enclave; Danielle, a documentary maker, and Julius, a freelance critic for the Village Voice, round out the group. The three fight to maintain their identity from interlopers in a post-9/11 world that calls into question the pretense and entitlement of privilege.
Knopf. 448 pages. $25. ISBN: 030726419X
New York Times **** 1/2
"Messud's prose is whorled and Jamesian, of a syntactical complexity that only a confident stylist could handle.... Among its many pleasures, this novel indisputably reminds us of one truth that cannot be declared fungible: the obdurate reality of the human imagination." MEGHAN O'ROURKE
Seattle Times ****
"Claire Messud is a masterful writer of displacement, alienation, and loneliness.... She writes with wit, intelligence and flawless style of predicaments and people both ordinary and extraordinary, making them sympathetic and believable." VALERIE RYAN
USA Today ****
"Her vivid, juicy writing ensures an exhilarating read throughout, but it also demands that we continually scrutinize and reconsider the details. Everyone and everything is not as it seems on the surface." ELYSA GARDNER
Wall Street Journal ****
"Her distinctive prose style--consisting of long, complex sentences crammed with details, pauses and qualifications--reminds one of an updated, breathless Henry James.... In her modern-Jamesian way, Ms. Messud has composed a...