Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: The Child in Time - Ian McEwan


The opening of ‘The Child in Time’ is harrowing; the three year old daughter of Stephen Lewis is abducted during a shopping trip to the local supermarket. From here, the story follows the effect this has on Stephen, through his marriage, job, friendships and mental health.

I found McEwan’s writing in this book captivating. The structure and description of the events which followed the kidnapping seem to perfectly reflect the mental state of the protagonist, Stephen. For example, at the beginning of the novel events seem detached with no real plot linking them, creating a muddled and reeling overall tone. In keeping with this, some characters do not become fully characterized until later in the novel, which leaves the reader feeling isolated through the narrative. I think this is a really important detail, and one which I appreciated throughout the book. I loved the way I seemed to go through the emotional turmoil Stephen was feeling, which truly immersed in the story.

 However, I found the first 100 pages or so rather slow to get through. Not a struggle to read, but I was not gripped by the storyline until later on. Personally I don’t see this as a problem with the book, it helped me get to know the characters better in fact, but if you prefer fast paced novels that are impossible to put down this may not be one for you. I also found some of the scenes which take place in Whitehall a little tricky to comprehend. Some of the politics did go a little over my head (I say this ashamedly- I study AS level Politics), so I would definitely ensure you know a little about how the British political system works before embarking on this novel. However, don’t let this put you off. I found that most of the political events were explained and became clear towards the end.

The mood of the second part of the book was starkly different. As parts of the plot began to fall into place I found myself reading at a much faster pace, flying through the last part in a couple of hours. I think the ending was especially touching, it sparked new hope and conveyed the overall message that whatever happens, everything will ultimately work out.

I would recommend this book to deep thinkers. It’s not one to skim over and definitely requires some thought as to the events, and what McEwan is trying to portray through them.

If you’ve read ‘The Child in Time’ I’d love to hear your thoughts!




[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="356"] The author, Ian McEwan[/caption]

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