The Children's Book

If you're looking for something to give the literature lover in your life—the reader in the family who likes nothing more than to get lost in a big story—look no further. A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book is a masterful look at the early years of the 20th century through the lens of a large, upper-class bohemian Edwardian family.

Byatt builds her world meticulously, and the reader feels fully enveloped in a world that is in some ways before its time: full of artists, feminists, anarchists, nudists and other idealists who thought they could create utopia. What came instead was the Great War, which provides a powerful coda to this memorable story.

The Children's Book narrowly missed our 2009 Fiction Top 10 and was a personal favorite of mine this year—if I haven't gone on about it enough to convince you here, read the full review.

Read the rest of our 12 books of Christmas series.

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