Books - Review

Showing all books by: Ian McEwan

A Child in Time
Stephen Lewis, a children's author, loses his 4 year old daughter in a supermarket, goes into a bit of a depression and separates from his wife. He also sits on a committee supposed to be writing a childcare manual, and so there is some political stuff too. I think its about childhood really, or the child in every adult, or something.
I quite enjoyed this book, but it didn't grab me emotionally (unllike the lady from the Guardian. Who was grabbed, I mean, not that she grabbed me). I also thought it all a bit contrived, with the various things that happened, or scenarios to do with childhood (unlike the lady from the Guardian, who thought it all flowed wonderfully)
Score: 7.5
Published: tbc
Read: August 2nd 2001

A young girl lies about who she saw seeing rape her cousin and as a result her sister's lover gets prosecuted and jailed. Then turns into a WW2 story as the different characters involved play their parts in that. The girl is a novelist and there's some stuff about the meaning of stories etc too...
Excellent! Runner up for the 2001 Booker prize, although I enjoyed it more than the Peter Carey which won. Pressie from Helen again, who also read and enjoyed it.
Score: 8.5
Published: 2001
Read: February 11th 2002

The Cement Garden
A family living in a seedy derelict part of London, with an obsessive father and depressed mother. He dies, leaving the kids to look after their mostly bedridden mum. Then she dies too, and they bury her in concrete in a trunk in the cellar, so that they don't get taken into care. After that it gets weirder, with a bit of incest and cross-dressing.
All a bit peculiar, but kinda interesting.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1978
Read: December 17th 2002

Neurosurgeon gets involved in car crash and his crashee later attacks him and his family in his own home. But he ends up operating on him to remove a blood clot from his brain.
OK, a bit dry somehow, none of the characters seemed particularly likeable, maybe because they were all so successful - neurosurgeon and lawyer wife, with just published poet daughter and talented blues-guitar son. Perhaps that's partly the point though - lofty family brought down (temporarily) by mentally ill and violent man? Great description of a squash match between neurosurgeon and his friend the anaesthetist, which I made JEJ read as we were on skiing hols in Serre Chevalier at the time.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2006
Read: March 17th 2006

On Chesil Beach
Just married couple in the 1950s go away on their honeymoon and although in love realise they have some issues about sex. Which they can't talk about. This leads to a sexual disaster which scars them both for life.
Pretty good - liked the build up etc but the story really fizzled out I thought. Christmas present from Bong La.
Score: 6.5
Published: 2007
Read: January 4th 2008

Nobel-winning physicist Michael Beard has had a series of wives and affairs during his life, but only decides he actually loves wife no.5 when she has an affair. Then his research graduate has a fatal accident at Beard's house and Beard a) nicks the student's solar power technology idea from him, and b) frames his wife's lover for the death of the student. Beard then goes on to become a world-renowned expert in the field, finishing by almost opening a revolutionary solar power generator in southern USA, only to be thwarted at the last moment by ex-wives, lovers, the wife's ex-lover, and lawyers seeking to expose his theft of intellectual property.
Pretty good, much more light-hearted than the usual McEwan, but consequently seemed a bit more like frothy entertainment!
Score: 8
Published: 2010
Read: April 10th 2011

The Children Act
Fiona is a highly regarded High Court judge working in the family division looking after the interests of children. Her life seems satisfying and stable, but she has to make a series of difficult judgements, culminating with the case of the young Jehovah's Witness who refuses a blood transfusion on religious grounds, and her private life goes a bit unhinged too, as her husband proposes he have an affair, and she begins to feel regrets she has never made time to have children of her own.
Excellent - good story, great characters, lots of interesting legal details and several fascinating legal decisions that we see unfold.
Score: 8
Published: 2014
Read: May 15th 2015