The Children Act – Ian McEwan
I loved Atonement – first the book and then the movie and so have been reading McEwan novels ever since. I was so disappointed with Solar that it has taken me a while to start reading him again. I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and so when a member of my book club selected this one, I thought why not?
Here is the blurb …
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child’s welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.
But Fiona’s professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses. But Jack doesn’t leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case—as well as her crumbling marriage—tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.
I did enjoy this novel – not as much as Atonement – but it was interesting, thought provoking and must contain a lot of research. In some ways it reminded me of Saturday – a tremendous amount of detail. McEwan is a writerly writer who spends time crafting each sentence – using the occasional obscure word.
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Sweet Tooth – Ian McEwan
Atonement is one of my favourite novels, but I was so disappointed in Solar that I didn’t think I would read another of his novels. However, a friend convinced me to read this one and I’m glad. I didn’t like it as much as Atonement, but I did enjoy it.
Here is the blurb …
Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”
Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one.
Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.
This novel was beautifully written and I could identify with Serena – I studied Maths at university (when I would rather have studied English). The story is told from Serena’s point of view, but it is clear that there is more going on than she knows about. People’s messy lives don’t work well with espionage!
I think this is McEwan back to his finest form.
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