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The Man Who Loved Children | [Christina Stead]

The Man Who Loved Children

Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for one another. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, this work is acknowledged as a contemporary classic.
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Publisher's Summary

Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for one another. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, this work is acknowledged as a contemporary classic.

©1996 Christina Stead (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"This crazy, gorgeous family novel is one of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century. I carry it in my head the way I carry childhood memories; the scenes are of such precise horror and comedy that I feel I didn't read the book so much as live it." (Jonathan Franzen)

"One of the best novels of this [the 20th] century." (Walter Clemons, Newsweek)

"This minute examination of the life of a lethally dysfunctional family is told in a gush of extravagant language such is not heard in the age of television. All but the youngest characters hold forth like orators in an Irish pub. It's the sort of thing one either loves or hates. Those who love it will find this recording by C.M. Herbert completely satisfactory. She takes the sprawling twenty-one-hour text in stride, giving every word its proper attention and showing great sensitivity to the emotional content (usually high) of every line of dialogue. She doesn't vary the sound of her voice greatly but, nonetheless, gives each character a distinctive tone." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (38 )
5 star
 (9)
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 (13)
3 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.4 (19 )
5 star
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3 star
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Story
3.9 (19 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kristin LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-09-11
    Kristin LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-09-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    5
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    "psychological torture in the best way"

    I'd listen to this book when my lover wasn't home because I didn't want him to get depressed. I like the book because I'm interested in the conflicts that happen when people pretend to be optimistic. It's really dark and claustrophobic. The father is a horrible, twisted monster of a man who prides himself on being good. It's hard to listen to the derisive nicknames and insults cloaked as baby-talk that he spews. It's a book about denial and shame. I thought it was amazing, but I like this kind of book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    See Joyce 09-19-12
    See Joyce 09-19-12

    Brooklyn Fan!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    100
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Love and Education Not Enough"
    If you could sum up The Man Who Loved Children in three words, what would they be?

    Literary, Creative, Potboiler!


    What other book might you compare The Man Who Loved Children to and why?

    There is a resemblance to Dickens, Austen Eliot, Thackeray, and Chekhov. It is so ambitious in scope. It examines flawed parents, bad marriages, an unintentionally bad man and a creative, highly intelligent young girl. Sometimes, a bit of the writing can make the listener/reader feel impatient but quite an interesting story especially because of its insightful and vivid characterizations. The plot has some creative sideshows including invented and inventive language. Actually the use of language is outstanding! The story has a dramatic arc especially regarding the plight of women mid-century. It is poignant. My one cavil has to do with the nearly complete avoidance of World War II; it seems to place the beginning before World War II and after. But frankly that historic war is not relevant to this novel. There are several themes at play in the novel: adolescent girl, foolish and feckless fathers, bad marriages, the impact of poverty, verbal abuse, housing, and travel, anthropology and nature, art and poetry to cite several.


    What about C. M. Hebert’s performance did you like?

    The voice was expressive, held my interest, and did not try to call attention to itself without cause!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was a cautionary tale and the protagonist is a young girl and particularly about children who are subject to whims and bad parenting. It also shows love of family and love gone awry. Yes, there were many times throughout causing me to chuckle and others which caused me to feel for the suffering of the protagonist.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth the experience. One of the better novels I've ever read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne 01-01-13
    Joanne 01-01-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A challenging read"
    If you could sum up The Man Who Loved Children in three words, what would they be?

    Manipulative, misguided and misplaced were words that kept recurring to me through this read. Manipulative describes the adult chatacters, barely an ounce of humanity between them. Misguided again applies to the adult characters who were flawed in just about every way possible. I also thought the author was misguided in setting the book in the USA. As an Australian reading this, and knowing that the Author was also Australian, though had lived long periods out of Australia, this book would have worked so much better if it had had an Australian setting.


    What three words best describe C. M. Hebert’s performance?

    Trying narration. The flat, almost monotone narration did nothing to enhance a read I found to be trying at the best of times.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisabeth MURRYSVILLE, PA, United States 04-17-14
    Elisabeth MURRYSVILLE, PA, United States 04-17-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    113
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Hated it!"
    What would have made The Man Who Loved Children better?

    Could not stand the characters!


    Would you be willing to try another one of C. M. Hebert’s performances?

    Yes. It isn't the narrator's fault that the story was so bad.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a terrible book!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Pittsburgh, PA, United States 09-17-10
    Amy Pittsburgh, PA, United States 09-17-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "A children's book"

    I listened for an hour or so. Nothing happened, and there was no indication that anything would happen. And I didn't care. It sounds like 120 year old book for kids.

    0 of 13 people found this review helpful
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