Nicholas Coleridge’s Godchildrenwas meant to be book 5 and then book 6 of this series, but Nora Roberts and an assignment got in the middle.

In a way, that was a good thing because of the structure of this long long novel. Goldchildren starts at the end of the story. In the year 2000, tycoon Marcus Brand is about to go into bankruptcy, something he finds out while on holiday with his six godchildren. The prologue gives a bit of information about each of the godchildren, but of course the reader has no idea what’s going on. Then the narrative jumps back to 1966 when the godchildren are all eight years old and summoned to their first group holiday with Marcus Brand, and the novel brings them back to that prologue scene.

Godchildren is quite a book, and not just because it’s 551 pages long. It’s an epic that follows so many people on an increasingly twisting (and sickening) path that it’s hard to keep everyone’s plot lines straight. Plus, some of the characters are detestable, especially Marcus (the biggest disappointment in the book is that we never figure out why he does what he does…unless he’s the pure embodiment of evil, but that seems too easy and unrealistic an answer).

It wasn’t until about half way into the novel that I got sucked in and was thinking about the characters when I wasn’t with the book. Of course, this could have something to do with the massive headcold that’s taken up residences in my head since Sunday (and if I talked to you within the last two days and didn’t make any sense, I apologize — and blame Nyquil), but it’s more likely to do with the fact that, even though their lives seem like one big train wreck, I wanted to see how it all played out and ended up back at that prologue holiday. I finished the final 250 pages in two days (and I know being sick had everything to do with that since I could barely get out to walk the dog today).

I was tempted to keep going back to the prologue through the book but didn’t the final chapters. Knowing that it ended poorly for Brand was enough. Having forgotten the rest while reading books five and six added an extra layer of mystery.

I’d have pegged Goldchildren as a beach book, but it only came out in the U.S. this September. Could make a juicy holiday read if you’re like me and spend the down time between shuffling from one family event to another with a new book.

Two bits of trivia:

1. Nicholas Coleridge is a the great-great-great-great-great of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet I studied at length in college and grad school (though what I knew then seems to have left my head).

2. Reading books by British authors me think in a British accent. Chalk it up to my semester away at Oxford University, but I mentally go back to the time I was studying Shakespeare in a church-turned-into-library in sort of a Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma and Sliding Doors accent. Sample:

(I am still tempted to get that hair cut)

I originally typed a sentence from a bit ago as “I’d have pegged Goldchildren as a beach book, but it only came out in the States this September.” I even used the word “bugger” in a Twitter post today. It’s a really weird occurance that’ll go away in a few hours.

I’m still stuck with this head cold so I hope this blog post made some sense. At least I had an interesting book to keep me company while my body fights the good fight to get me ready for the annual Verzella Christmas Party on Saturdy…

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. nicholas coleridge on January 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks for reading the book Jen, and I hope your cold is now better.
    Best wishes


  2. Jen A. Miller on January 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks Nicholas for the comment!


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