2000 Books You Must Read: 2. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

This is almost a rare gem. Why do I say that? Because I really believe that when it comes to language and writing style, very few books can surpass this one. “The Man Who Loved Children” by Christina Stead is one of those books which will haunt you long after you have finished reading it.

The book is about a large family – almost close to nine people (including the parents) and the parents living their lives through their children. Sam and Henny Pollit hate each other as a couple, and have too many children and too less money to take care of them. While Sam lives vicariously through his children and gets them to feed his ego, Henny watches silently, knowing that the end will be disastrous.

That in short is the plot of the book. What makes it so unique that I recommend it? The plot and the story and the characters crawl through the readers’ skin. It is darkness personified. You cannot help but think of it and at some point, it drove me crazy trying to figure the behaviour and actions of some characters. The degradation of a family is so stark and obvious that your heart goes out to them and yet you cannot do anything at all. It is a brilliant portrayal of a family that has lost its bearings and does not know what to do. The book may not be meant for all but do read it if a dark family story interests you.

Here are some quotes from it:

“Life is nothing but rags and tags and filthy rags at that. Why was I ever born?”

“ men call it the tyranny of tears, it is an iron tyranny- no man could be so cruel, so devishlish,as a woman with her weakness, recrimination, convenient ailments, nerves and tears. We men are all weak as water before the primitive devices of Eve. I was patient at first, many years. ‘ ”

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