If you read widely, you often come across lists of the best authors or the best books you've never heard of/read, which I always find mildly condescending, but sometimes bear fruit, as is the case with the author John Williams (not the composer). I'm sure I can't be only one who thought this book was about a pedophile. Don't worry, it's about a messed up family. Despite the accolades from Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick (fun fact: they were married), Randall Jarrell, who wrote the introduction, and Jonathan Frazen, I found it very hard to get into this book or to care about any of the characters. Written by the Australian-born Christina Stead, the book does embody two major trends in the 20th century American novel, angsty suburban dwellers (Cheever, Updike, Yates) and the dysfunctional family (take your pick). It feels like this book wasn't really edited at all and Stead's dialogue is idiosyncratic in a way that has not aged well. It's a family with a lot of kids and not a lot of money and I confess I couldn't keep the kids straight. On the plus side, it's really long, like over 500 pages long. Drag.
A really creepy combination of Louisa May Alcott and George Orwell. Think Little Men crossed with Animal Farm...one of those books that stick with you for a long time.
recommended by Anne Tyler
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