In its scope, style and substance, The Emperor's Children is an attempt to return the novel to its golden age; it is engaged in a conversation with George Eliot, Henry James, Dostoevsky. Its psychological realism is perfect, its characters . . . thrillingly real, alive and utterly convincing in their subtleties of thought and the ticking of their minds.
Messud's prose is a timely and intensely pleasurable reminder of the possibilities of the English language. To use the word clarity about her style - dense, chaste, luminously intelligent - is to return the word to its origins; this is style as illumination, shining a searching yet sympathetic light on the minds and inner worlds of her characters, and as a radiant mode of moral inquiry.