Author(s): Jo Walton
It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know--what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.
Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War--those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?
Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton's My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan's lives... and of how every life means the entire world.?
Such a wise book, about sweetness in sorrow, without any sentiment... It's easy to write a sad book, but this one uplifts and sweetens even as it tears your heart to pieces. Astounding work, even by Walton's incredibly high standards. Cory Doctorow My Real Children starts quietly, then suddenly takes you on two roller-coaster rides at once, swooping dizzily through a double panorama and ending in a sort of super Sophie's Choice. A daring tour de force. -- Ursula K. Le Guin As an old woman, Patricia tells her story through the haze of deepening dementia - perhaps ... The result is two period dramas for the price of one, told through the science fictional conceit of alternate realities. But it does a disservice to this powerful novel to focus overmuch on its structure or categorization ... Rendered with Walton's usual power and beauty ... The alternate-history elements grow stronger as the stories progress, yet it's this haunting character complexity that ultimately holds the reader captive to the tale. New York Times My Real Children is the rarest sort of novel - one that transcends genre. It is a book that, one surmises, will be eagerly reread as the years pass. Quill & Quire (starred review) In My Real Children, there is a dizzying array of astonishments unfolding, a Chinese box of surprises. Once started, it is extraordinarily difficult to put this book down, even for dinner, even for bed. -- Jane Yolen Lyrical and brilliant. Jo Walton takes "What If" to a new level. -- Ellen Klages Breathtakingly good! I really didn't want it to end, but I had to keep turning pages to see how it came out. A novel for grown-ups, even ones who think they 'don't like science fiction. -- Ellen Kushner A wonderfully absorbing book about how one woman's decision can change the course of history. The characters are very real, the plot as complex as origami, the theme timeless. I lost sleep reading it, and dreamed about it when I did sleep. -- Delia Sherman My Real Children has as much in common with an Alice Munro story as it does with, say, Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle . Good novels show us a character's destiny as an expression of who they fundamentally are. What most novels do only once, My Real Children does twice. -- Lev Grossman Publishers Weekly In her greatest novel, George Eliot attributed the growing good of the world to the actions of ordinary people, to which Jo Walton responds in My Real Children, 'What if?' -- Sherwood Smith
Jo Walton has published nine previous novels, one essay collection and three poetry collections. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award in 2004, and the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2012 for Among Others. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal. She writes science fiction and fantasy, reads a lot, talks about books and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up.