Saturday, October 25, 2014
Book Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Author: Ian McEwan
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: swearing and sex, but not much of either one
Now that she's in her fifties, Fiona Maye's life seems to bear the fruits of years of hard work, routine, and restraint. Her job as a family court judge in London is both satisfying and demanding, and she and her husband Jack know what to expect from each other. That is, until Jack surprises her by telling her that he wants to have an affair and wants her permission to carry it out. As Fiona works to regain a sense of balance in her personal life, she finds herself struggling with the emotional demands of case involving a seventeen-year-old Jehovah's Witness boy who doesn't want the medical procedures that will cure him of leukemia.
I love Ian McEwan. Atonement, Solar, On Chesil Beach and Saturday are some of my favorite books. One of the things I like best about McEwan's novels is that he creates such interesting, complex characters. There isn't a lot that "happens" in some of his books-- rather, it's the interior life of what's going on in the minds of the characters that propels the novels forward. This is definitely true in The Children Act. It has barely any dialogue and takes place in only a handful of episodes. What's interesting here is to see Fiona work through her feelings toward Jack and her feelings about this perplexing case, and to see how they unexpectedly intersect.