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Hard to classify this book and just as hard to rate it But I think I ll stick with 3 stars.Some of it is beautifully written and made me sit and absorb the structure of sentences and descriptions, like that of crepe myrtles, are in shocking pink flower all down the road When she was little she loved their gaudy pinks and crimsons, but as she grew older she began to realise they were tawdry, that these were the colours of bargain shops and chemist brand lipsticks and she became ashamed for them Now, as she walks through the streets, the crepe myrtles are the only bright shriek in all the dried up anonymity of the town The description of Stephen and his father with the fishing rod off Culburra Beach is as vivid a description and visual image as you could ever wish for It is beautifully done.The reader can see everything that happens and feels the sense of wonder The same novel used profanity and coarse language that for me echoed and aggravated like a tolling bell The story is also bleak in outlook, brutal in places and not just those to do with Iraq but conveys a sad look at the complex relationships within a family The description of Mandy is telling, Mandy has always had a gift for disagreeableness In the end that was one of the things I found hardest about this book I didn t like any of the characters and felt glad not to have belonged to such a disagreeable family. Such a well written, book of real people VERY graphic memories of being a war correspondent by the eldest daughter, the falling into their younger sibling roles, and old memories long buried all come to a life changing scene Fabulous author It was even better this second reading. Lovely, painful book centring around adult children returning home in the event of their father s accident, which has placed him into intensive care, and likely to die The interactions between the children and in laws, their mother, the memories of their father, are well crafted Not a particularly uplifting book, but true to life Quote that seems to be referred to often, but is very true You bring your children up to escape sorrows You spend your best years trying to stop them witnessing it on television, in you, in your neighbours faces But then you realise, slowly, that there is no escape, that they must steer their own way through life s cruelties When everything is useless, when there is nothing to be done, all we can do is pay attention, keep watch In his boys own innocent s fucked up vigil, Tony knew this, and it was all he had Her remorse will never leave her She leans forward, stands up, collecting the glass to go inside and help with the dishes Because it is enough And her purpose now, she knows certainly than anything, is to keep watch over these small things, these ordinary decencies To pay attention to her mother s walk, to Chris voice Her sister s, brother s eyes. I started reading this, and although it is beautifully written I was worried it was going to be a new Australian novel.all landscape and imagery and symbols and no plot as the protagonist Mandy says However, the story builds and the novel becomes quite compelling as the reader follows the family members as they cope with the dying of their father It is beautifully observed and thoughtful One character comments on Mandy s open nature, saying her unchecked opinions were rare at university, whereeveryone made a furtive calibration towards irony before they spoke And then finally When everything is useless, when there is nothing to be done, all we can do is pay attention, keep watch. Last night at my women s group we talked about the impact of being in a tribe in my case a large and close family We talked about the sense of security it gives you There is a layer of confidence that you have in going out to meet the world, beacuse your tribe is strong, you are loved, there are people that will care for you and opportunities for intimacy It provides a kind of resilient backbone The Children is about siblings in a family It might not be very interesting if it was about a tribe as secure as mine is This tribe is a little dysfunctional brought together after an accident and forced to spend unaccustomed time togther As well as the depiction of these relationships, the novel presents a very fine and accurate picture of life in a NSW country town It thrusts life in this small town up against the experiences of one of the main characters, Mandy, who has become a foreign correspondent and lived through some extremely traumatic events Small towns can produce their own forms of trauma hoever, and these play out subtly in the novel There is one faintly jarring plot line that runs through the novel unnecessarily but the rest of it was just fine and a pleasure to read. A dysfunctional woman returns from a dysfunctional war zone to her dysfunctional marriage in a seemingly functional Australia It is the summer of the Cronulla riots with a cold hearted prime minister politically and not too subtly fanning racial intolerance A father s tragic accident is the reason for a family coming together to bicker, to go over old hostilities and to try and see each other in a less corrosive light Another dysfunctional life then imposes itself on the family allowing Woods to build an underlying tension as the family slowly comes to terms with the partriarch s condition The tensions explode in what this reader felt to be overwrought fashion at novel s end, the only jarring note in this masterfully engrossing work The novel is a seamlessly written homage to fractured families and Australian life away from the epicentres of the big cities Her descriptive prose, conveying the fragility if interweaving lives, has something of The Slap about it in its tone The title is significant in the unhappiness and frustration that pervades the novel The appalling vignettes from Iraq and elsewhere as relayed via Mandy, a war correspondent, shock and haunt The links between these and contemporary Oz are both subtle and sledge hammer clear And to think that with Kevin 07 we had thought we d moved on Both this novel and her previous The Submerged Cathedral point to a writer worth following. I enjoyed this book very much It is a different type of book for me, but it is our current bookclub book and a quick, easy read.It tells the story of 3 adult children who return home to Rundle, near Sydney, Australia, when their father is terribly injured falling from the roof of his houseMandy is a war correspondent based in Iraq, and has seen awful things happen..Stephen has been estranged from his family for years, and Cathy has been trying to keep the family together Chris is Mandy s husband, and doesn t know what to make of Mandy.The story of their lives as they sit by their father s bed, the trauma, the tragedy of the past, and the present, all come together Then there is Tony, who has a past with Mandy, though she doesn t remember it Tony seems to be stalking Mandyshe doesn t trust him, thinks he s creepy and weirdwhat is he up to This beautifully paced story had me from the first chapter, the tension builds adeptly til the final climax Highly recommend (FREE) ê The Children ⚣ When Their Father Is Critically Injured, Foreign Correspondent Mandy And Her Siblings Return Home, Bringing With Them The Remnants And Patterns Of Childhood Mandy Has Lived Away From The Country For Many Years Her Head Is Filled With Images Of Terror And War, And Her Homecoming To The Quiet Country Town Not To Mention Her Family And Marriage Only Heightens Her Disconnection From Ordinary Life Cathy, Her Younger Sister, Has Stayed In Regular Contact With Her Parents, Trying Also To Keep Tabs On Her Brother Stephen Who, For Reasons Nobody Understands, Has Held Himself Apart From The Family For Years In The Intensive Care Unit The Children Sit, Trapped Between Their Bewildered Mother And One Another Between Old Wounds And Forgiveness, Struggling To Connect With Their Emotions, Their Past And Each Other But As They Wait And Watch Over Their Father, There S Someone Else Watching Too A Young Wardsman, Tony, Who S Been Waiting For Mandy To Come Home As He Insinuates Himself Into The Family, The Pressure, And The Threat, Intensify And Build To A Climax Of Devastating Force This Acutely Observed Novel Exposes The Tenacious Grip Of Childhood, The Way Siblings Seem To Grow Apart But Never Do, And Explores The Price Paid For Bearing Witness To The Suffering Of Others Whether Far Away Or Uncomfortably Close To Home When I was a short way into this novel I realised I d read it before but it was well worth reading again The basic idea of adult children coming together for an accident, a death, a funeral or even a celebration is not new but Wood breathes life into this common theme through her astute observations of behaviour and her insights into the dynamics of family, especially where siblings have all taken very different directions in life In this case the children have come together because their father has had a fall and is dying in the intensive care of the hospital of the country town where they all grew up Mandy is intellectual critical of herself and of others but has grown weary and indeed damaged by her work as a journalist reporting wars, famines and other disasters Stephen on the other hand has refused to engage in life at all and has a menial job and no meaningful relationships in his life Cathy is the least developed of the characters merely acting as a foil or perhaps a sponge for the sparring interactions of her brother and sister Their mother Margaret is a great character having chosen a quiet life in a rural Australian town, her attitudes and indeed memories are now dangerously challenged It is as if his skidding boot, his body as he tumbled, has knocked loose a stone in a wall and made a small irregular gap through which her life comes during, dry as sand Into this mix throw the Mandy s long suffering husband, Chris and the rather sinister Tony, a wardsman at the hospital, who claims a peculiar connection to Mandy It all makes for a taut and convincing drama about death, love, protection, the responsibilities we have for others and the evasions we all practise Beautifully written Very impressive.