"one of the most truthful and terrifying horror stories ever written about family life"
Stead had an interesting life, and lived in America and Europe from the 1930s up to 1974 when she returned to Australia, she wasn't published here until 1965. "The Man Who Loved Children" is an auto-biographical fiction, based upon Stead's childhood. The novel follows the social decline of a family, and the painful interactions between the estranged parents and their six children. It was remarkably well written, I was completely absorbed by the narrative, but it was very depressing and ultimately made me question humanity. She must have had an utterly horrid childhood, the father is based off her own father and the step-mother off her own step-mother.
Even though it was depressing, am I glad I read it? Yes.
Could I have put it down and not finished it? No.
Do I ever want to read it again? No.
It was like reading "The Sound and the Fury", mixed with "The Power and the Glory", but on speed. It makes Faulkner's Compson family look like the Brady Bunch and the children's misery in Stead's novel is almost on par to the misery the whiskey priest endures throughout Green's paradoxical novel. I have moved on now to Hemingway's unfinished, posthumously released novel, "Garden of Eden", so far, much less depressing... but only so far... What are you reading at the moment?