The Children Act - Ian McEwan

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The Children Act - Ian McEwan

Post by Graham on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:47 pm

This, at 200 pages a novella, is nevertheless the perfect length. It is the story of a desultory marriage stuttering in its late childless stages. The dedicated high court judge Fiona Maye is shocked when scholar husband Jack announces his intention to have a last fling. The story of how their split splutters through its inevitable stages interlocks with a case that involves her much too deeply. A young Jehovah’s Witness just short of his eighteenth birthday and legal adulthood is refusing a life-saving blood transfusion. She pays him a judicial visit in hospital and with one ill-considered action precipitates a crisis in her career and eventual tragedy.

McEwan’s writing operates at the higher end of the literary spectrum and often concerns those who might be considered winners in life. To engage my sympathy for these fortunates takes considerable skill. McEwan doesn’t fail. Likewise, relationship stories bore me but the delicacy and precision with which he gets inside the thoughts and emotions of Judge Maye kept me fully engaged. As expected with McEwan the meticulously researched detail is displayed with casual authority but never interferes with the narrative. There is never a false note, a boring interlude or a scintilla of unwarranted exposition. All the characters are fully realised and even minor ones humanised with succinct description. The ending while not a happy one is satisfying.

For me McEwan is the gold standard. I recommend The Children Act.

Graham
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