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Black Dogs [Paperback]

Ian McEwan
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1994
In 1946, a young couple set off on their honeymoon.  Fired by their ideals and passion for one another, they plan an idyllic holiday, only to encounter an experience of darkness so terrifying it alters their lives forever.  In this highly praised national bestseller, Ian McEwan has written his most humane and compelling novel to date.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Reprint edition (31 Dec 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553373676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553373677
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,489,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday and On Chesil Beach.

Product Description


"A superb novel." --"Mark Abley, The Montreal Gazette "This is a brilliant book." --"The New Yorker "McEwan is a of Europe's preeminent writers." --"The Globe and Mail --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

'I judge it his best yet, which I should make clear is saying a great deal' - Observer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dogs of Europe 5 Oct 2012
"In the Nightmare of the dark/All the dogs of Europe bark".(W.H.Auden). The underlying philosophical idea of this book is the conflict between the rational and religious views of life, as personified in the characters of the parents-in-law of the narrator, irrevocably in love but totally unable to live in harmony with each other's world view or even agree on the details of their shared memories. The post-war incident in France with the black dogs is the trigger for June's epiphany; her confrontation with evil paradoxically causing her to experience in the moment a spiritual enlightenment, separating her for ever from the naive Communist view she had shared with her husband Bernard. He is unable to comprehend or share her insights and this leads to their lifelong separation.

I seemed to detect the shadow of Freud's "Wolf Man" case history in the author's concept of the black dogs, but anyway I think they are appropriate symbols for the assault on rational thinking engendered by the evils unleashed in World War 2.

As one would expect from McEwan, the book is fluently written and a compulsive read. It engages a serious subject without a trace of pretentiousness. It has the effect of really good writing: it lingers in the mind long after putting it down.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is less of a gripping page turner than some of McEwan's later books, and may suffer in comparison as a result. However, it rewards on other levels. As always in McEwan the characterisation is totally convincing, but it is the book's engagement with history that really compels. McEwan takes in war, revolution and the nature of evil, and the image of the black dogs haunted my imagination as it did the characters in the book. The scenes in Berlin as the wall comes down were also memorable, but more than anything I enjoyed this book because it made me think, and because it showed that the author himself had really grappled with the themes of the book without ever losing sight of the every day reality of being human.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
One of his great literary triumphs, Ian McEwan's "Black Dogs" is an engrossing reflection on the thrills of violence and the redemptive power of love, set largely amidst the collapse of the Berlin Wall and a mesmerizing look back at a memorable French summer one year after the end of World War II. McEwan's novel is a most vivid fictional exploration of a marriage torn apart by the diverging political beliefs of husband and wife, Bernard and June Tremaine, as seen by their young son-in-law Jeremy. By mere happenstance Jeremy stumbles upon the rise and fall of the Tremaine's marriage, when he is asked by June to write her memoirs, shortly before her death. A few years later he hears a compelling, quite different, account of that marriage from Bernard himself, as both take a last-minute journey to a jubilant Berlin, its citizenry transfixed by the Berlin Wall's collapse. Always a keen observer of the human condition, McEwan's sparse, descriptive, and quite lyrical, prose presents a compelling portrait of Jeremy, Bernard and June, closing, most memorably, during the bright dawn of the Tremaine's marriage. An idyllic French summer marred by an unexpectedly dark reminder of the recently concluded war's demonic fury.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading but not wholly enjoyable 11 May 1999
By A Customer
Typically, as with much of McEwan's work we don't find out the true base of the story till right at the end.
Black Dogs revolves around the story of a honeymooning couple in France and their confrontation with two Black Dogs.
The book starts with the perspective in the first person, describing the narrators childhood and lack of family, then moves to switching between third and first person to describe the story of this couple and their subsequent lives after the encounter.
No Doubt a good plot and and an engrossing read the book will nevertheless dissapoint many McEwan fans because it does not reach the flow of 'Amsterdam' or 'Enduring Love'.
Worth reading but not wholly enjoyable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unenjoyable and disappointing 17 Sep 2001
Black Dogs was the 7th Ian McEwan book I have read - all of the others I have either loved or really liked. Enduring Love and Amsterdam are two of my favourite all-time novels. Black Dogs is the only one of McEwan's novels I did not enjoy and actually disliked. Not only is it a laborious read, with nothing to keep the story moving along, but the symbolism is absurdly obvious and the events implausible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 18 Feb 2013
By Juancho
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The genius strikes again! yes, it is different to other McEwans, but will entrance in a slightly different way. More lyrical and slower paced than many of his novels
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time 14 July 2011
I love the way Ian McEwan splits people. He is one of my favourite writers but at times I could strangle him. I was bored to tears by the drawn-out and completely unbelievable 'Saturday' and disgusted by 'The Comfort of Strangers' (as well as some of his early short stories), but novels like 'Enduring Love', 'Atonement' and 'Black Dogs' make up for things in a big way.

Black Dogs is intense, fascinating and exciting. The characters are believable, intriguing and, as in a lot of McEwan novels, fairly loathsome! I've lent this book to some of my friends and it has split them too - some said they couldn't get into it at all whereas others were gripped from the first page, as I was. I'm sure Ian McEwan likes the split he generates - buying one of his books is like gambling, but I'm very glad I gambled on this one. I remember a shiver running down my spine the day after i finished it - when I walked past a bookies that had a big photo of two black dogs in the window. Gamble and read this - and if you don't like it, you'll probably love some of his other stuff...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars McEwan at his Best
Typically McEwan, with some of the prose absolutely breathtaking. Marred by some 'downtime' in a few places though.
Published 1 month ago by M. Chapple
3.0 out of 5 stars Could not finish it...
This was a Reading Group choice. It is not to my taste. Unfortunately, I missed the Group meeting at which it was discussed, so did not have the chance of having my opinion... Read more
Published 3 months ago by G. A. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book by a great author.
Published 5 months ago by W. Osborne
2.0 out of 5 stars I ploughed through it
This book was generally disappointing but for some reason I stuck with it. If felt as though i was reading it for an exam. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Deborette
5.0 out of 5 stars dark at times
There is always a dark undertone to his books and this delivers that..for me his best up until Saturday was released.
Published 10 months ago by escorial
2.0 out of 5 stars never finished it.
i bought it because someone had told me some of it was about a place in France, and I think i quite enjoyed a previous McEwan, but it wallowed around and got nowhere. Read more
Published 12 months ago by nick j
3.0 out of 5 stars Mid-period McEwan: competent but unexciting
'Black Dogs' is one of the group of books that McEwan published between 1987 and 1997. Appearing in 1992, it represents the period in which the author had ceased to be a novelty -... Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2011 by Paul Bowes
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so Book
Perhaps I didn't get the hidden meanings in this Ian McEwan story . I found that I had to be patient with it, which surprised me. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2011 by Bamba
5.0 out of 5 stars McEwan the existentialist
McEwan gets into the Reasoning brains of 21st C. Britons better than most - his desire might be to construct weak spiritual figures whose feebleness is worthy of our contempt, when... Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2010 by S. Gibbs
2.0 out of 5 stars Facile and unpleasant
As ever, in "Black Dogs" McEwan turns out readable prose, a balance of description and plot points which draw the reader in. Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2009 by Catherine Murphy
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