The Children's Home

A Novel

The Children's Home

For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor—and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.

The Children’s Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque—as well as the glimmers of goodness—buried deep within the soul.
  • Scribner | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501117398 | 
  • January 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Children’s Home includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In a sprawling, secluded estate lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a mysterious fortune. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children arrive.

The children behave strangely. They have an uncanny understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion are disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into hidden rooms, if not into thin air.

As time goes by, Morgan suspects that the children are there with a purpose, which they refuse to share, though it involves the fates of more than just those in the mansion. Ultimately, Morgan must confront his past, his family, and the source of his fortune.

 
Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Why does Engel call the first child, Moira, a living daylight? Why do you think the “living daylights” are the part of the soul most susc see more

About the Author

Charles Lambert
Photograph by Patrizia Casamirra

Charles Lambert

Charles Lambert is the author of many novels, short stories, and the memoir, With a Zero at its Heart, which was named one of The Guardian’s Ten Best Books of the Year in 2014. In 2007, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story, “The Scent of Cinnamon.” He has been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Lichfield Prize, and the Willesden Short Story Prize. He was born in Lichfield, England, and currently lives near Rome, Italy.

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