McEwan’s third novel and the earliest that I have read wasn’t too bad. It’s about a guy who is estranged from his wife after the abduction of their child in a supermarket. The book follows him as he attempts to deal with this.
As with pretty much every McEwan novel, you get a great opening. If only he could write an entire novel as well as the beginning of this or Atonement or, even better, Enduring Love, it would be incredible. But I’m noticing (after finishing 6 of his novels) that McEwan’s plan is often to take a critical moment, describe it and then spend the rest of the novel having the characters come to terms with it somehow.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. But many readers, myself included, have complained that he starts well and then tapers off into ambiguity. Now that I’m more experienced at reading novels than I was when I read the two titles I’ve mentioned above, I actually think that this is my preferred approach. Page turners where stuff happens all the time keep you hooked, but they often lack any
reflective element completely. Life is much messier than that.
So, I appreciated McEwan’s exploration of loss, love and separation through the eyes of Stephen Lewis. It enabled me to focus my own thoughts and reflect on these themes in my own life. I also liked the way that there’s a bit of the unexplained in there. That’s like life too.
Not a bad McEwan then and quite a good introduction to his writing if you’ve never tried him. But On Chesil Beach is still, in my opinion, far and away his best.
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