Books: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

I stole this book from my brother-in-law’s bedside table from his cabin in Whistler. I know. Nasty. But it’s Ian McEwan so I felt there was a certain ” I have to…it’s Ian McEwan.” So I did, convincing myself that I would read quickly and return it  to the bedside table by the end of the weekend. Well, I didn’t quite make it. But I did finish it which is more than I can say for some books I’m not wild about. But that’s because Ian McEwan is a fantastic writer and no matter what he does, he knows how to pull a reader in and keep them reading. Even, in this case, if he’s boring the reader ( me) to death.

Sigh. The Children Act. I could probably read some literary reviews that will tell me why this book is brilliant…. that the sonata the main character plays at her piano concert are the same structure as the book, a tickly little surprise for those in the know.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make myself care. I didn’t care about the middle aged judge or her marriage that was in ruins. I didn’t care about her career trajectory as an ambitious young girl to esteemed member of the British judiciary. I couldn’t care about her relationship with her husband and her childlessness.

I was mildly interested in her cases. It’s interesting seeing the legal structures and thinking that goes into making life changing decisions for people. And in this case it was the story of a young 17 year old Jehovah’s Witness that she had to make a decision on. Basic facts of the case: he has leukaemia and is refusing treatment on the basis of religious grounds. What she has to decide is if he is under undue influence of his religion or parents and whether he is old enough at almost 18 to legally make a decision for himself.

What transpires is a connection between child and esteemed worn out judge when she decides to meet him in person. What further transpires is a subsequent meeting between the two when the young man decides to go in search of her….and it’s clear that in both meetings they are touched by each other. Feelings are sparked. Somehow they are both able to clearly see the best of the other person.

I’ll leave it at that. I really like Ian McEwan. He’s one of my favourite writers. So effortless. From the first word he draws you into the world he creates for his characters. Unfortunately, this was a world I wasn’t overly interested in.


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