Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Review - The Children Act by Ian McEwan

As I am sure you are probably tired of hearing me say this, I have to say it one more time:

I LOVE Ian McEwan.

Funny thing is that years ago, I was not able to read his books. It took me three times to read Atonement but by then, I began reading one of his other novels, Amsterdam. Strangely enough, it was Amsterdam that helped me "understand" how McEwan wrote; by the time I tried Atonement again, not only did I understand it all too well but I was able to fly through it with little problems. Since then, I tend to devour every book he has written (except Solar, but I am willing to give it another try!), so when the news came out that he had a new book coming out, I was beyond happy.

The Children Act, McEwan's latest, presents the readers with a very serious question: are Life and Death so easily manipulated by the law? Fiona Maye, a High Court judge, is presented a case in which a young man, Adam, is refusing treatment for his leukemia because of his religious beliefs. She goes to visit the highly intelligent and emotionally sensitive boy in the hospital and from there, develops a sort of friendship with the young man that quickly turns into a obsession. A side story, but still just as important, is that her husband, Jack, informs her that he wants to have an affair with a younger woman due to the lack of passion in their marriage. As the story progresses, she stands her ground in both matters and the end comes not with a bang or an explosion but rather a moment of being enlightened with a sense of weariness.

As much as I wanted to savour this book, I found that I could not and instead devoured the entire book within two days. Ian McEwan has done it again, complete with believable characters that are not necessarily likable, prose that flourishes and delves ever so deep within the psyche, and a sense of the macabre that is horrific only in that we actually know people like these characters and wonder if perhaps McEwan somehow knows them as well. I actually argued with myself for thirty minutes when I finished the book - a sign that I loved the book.

If you are a fan of McEwan like I am, or just looking for a slim and powerful novel to read on the weekend, The Children Act is for you.

Thank you again, Ian. I hope I can meet you one day and give you a copy of The Decembrists.


PS - Here is the official trailer for Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. Awesome film yet the book is so much better.

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