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Enduring Love Paperback – 25 Jun 1998


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Enduring Love + 'A' LEVEL REVISION NOTES FOR 'ENDURING LOVE' by Ian McEwan: Chapter-by-chapter study guide + Enduring Love [DVD] [2004]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (25 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099276585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099276586
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,515 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

Amazon Review

Joe Rose has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside to celebrate his lover's return after six weeks in the States. To complete the picture, there's even a "helium balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley." But as Joe and Clarissa watch the balloon touch down, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. As the wind whips into action, Joe and four other men rush to secure the basket. Mother Nature, however, isn't feeling very maternal. "A mighty fist socked the balloon in two rapid blows, one-two, the second more vicious than the first," and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted sky- high, only to fall to his death.

In itself, the accident would change the survivors' lives, filling them with an uneasy combination of shame, happiness and endless self-reproach. (In one of the novel's many ironies, the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed.) But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Meeting the eye of fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. For Jed is instantly obsessed, making the first of many calls to Joe and Clarissa's London flat that very night. Soon he's openly shadowing Joe and writing him endless letters. One insane epistle begins, "I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current. I close my eyes and see you as you were last night in the rain, across the road from me, with the unspoken love between us as strong as steel cable." Worst of all, Jed's version of love comes to seem a distortion of Joe's feelings for Clarissa.

Apart from the incessant stalking, it is the conditionals--the contingencies--that most frustrate Joe, a scientific journalist. If only he and Clarissa had gone straight home from the airport... if only the wind hadn't picked up... if only he had saved Jed's 29 messages in a single day... Ian McEwan has long been a poet of the arbitrary nightmare, his characters ineluctably swept up in others' fantasies, skidding into deepening violence, and--worst of all--becoming strangers to those who love them. Even his prose itself is a masterful and methodical exercise in defamiliarization. But Enduring Love and its underrated predecessor, Black Dogs, are also meditations on knowledge and perception as well as brilliant manipulations of our own expectations. By the novel's end, you will be surprisingly unafraid of hot-air balloons, but you won't be too keen on looking a stranger in the eye.

Review

"McEwan's exploration of his characters' lives and secret emotions is a virtuoso display of fictional subtlety and intelligence" (Observer)

"A page-turner, with a plot so engrossing that it seems reckless to pick the book up in the evening if you plan to get any sleep that night" (A S Byatt Daily Mail)

"Taut with narrative excitement and suspense...a novel of rich diversity that triumphantly integrates imagination and intelligence, rationality and emotional alertness" (Sunday Times)

"He is the maestro at creating suspense: the particular, sickening, see-sawing kind that demands a kind of physical courage from the reader to continue reading" (New Statesman)

"Hypnotically readable" (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Greedo on 13 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
I have not before submitted any online reviews to Amazon, but I felt compelled to do so in this case for two reasons. Firstly, because I found it a truly masterful piece of fiction, and secondly, in order to answer those reviewers who have labelled the book "nasty" and insinuated that it is offers a purely pessimistic view of the world.
Much has been made of the first chapter of the book, and rightly so, but I would draw attention to the final chapter, for it was this part which left me breathless. It is also here that McEwan answers the conundrum that he set us in the title of his book. Is he saying that love is a nuisance - an affliction that we must endure? Or is his message that love can endure whatever hardships are placed before it?
If you finished reading after the penultimate chapter, then the message would clearly be the former. However, in the beautifully written conclusion, McEwan offers us a feeling of redemption, offering hope to each of the relationships in the novel which feature mutual affection, and hence ending on an optimistic note. The very last line made my heart miss a beat.
In addition to this neat trick, McEwan also displays perception and empathy of the highest order - qualities that for me seem to be found in all the most accomplished authors, and not easy when writing about both men, women, children, and, erm, psychopaths. The characters in the novel are believable, and seem like living, breathing entities rather than merely being shards of the authors own ego.
So, nasty? Well, yes. The world can be a ugly place, and thus McEwan does not shirk from documenting this. But, ultimately, uplifting. Love, McEwan is saying, can endure. Indeed, true love will. A positive message, and an outstanding novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Wilkie on 23 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Not what you'd call a huge fan of Mr McEwan but I enjoyed Saturday and Atonement. So I picked this up expecting a lot, especially when I read the sleeve quotes.
After a very good start full of potential I felt that this went right off track- becoming less credible and convincing. By the time I reached the point where he dug up an old aquaintance to supply him with a gun I was cringeing and simply had to stop reading- it simply felt false and phoney.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sahara VINE VOICE on 11 May 2010
Format: Paperback
With one of the most exciting first chapters written, this story of love and obsession captures you from page one and propels you through a psychological thriller. Without spoiling too much of the opening, a tragedy brings a group of strangers together including main character Joe and his girlfriend Clarissa. While everyone struggles to come to terms with their involvement in the tragedy Joe, finds himself entangled with fellow witness Jed, whose innocent behaviour at first becomes more sinister as the story progresses and the nightmare, begins.

Under pressure, Science Journalist Joe determines to find a solid scientific explanation for Jed's actions as well as coping with his own feeling of failure for letting the tragedy occur. In contrast, Literature Lecturer Clarissa takes a more humanistic, romantic view of life but fails to understand Joe's own obsession with Jed. Ultimately, this takes a toll on, what they had considered 'strong', relationship.

McEwan presents each character with their own enduring love and tests them to the limit exploring how others' actions can affect the fragility of relationships. It is difficult to write this review without spoiling the plot, sub plots and the twists and turns that will keep you at the end of the seat. What can be said is that McEwen leaves you feeling so confused over who to sympathise with and who to trust which leaves you wondering about your own state of mind.

Deeply philosophical but with fantastic energy, Enduring Love will keep you engrossed throughout
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Lavin on 1 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
Enduring Love is one of Ian McEwan's finest works. It is
also one of the most beautifully written and emotionally
engaging books to have come out of Britain in the past
decade. Fans of McEwan familiar with his superb wartime
novel, Atonement, will enjoy Enduring Love very much.
The novel focuses on love and obsession and the factors
that drive us and how we perceive ourselves through the prism
of our relationships in the modern world.
The story also renders a nuanced expose of the stalking
phenomenon and is constructed in such a way as to encourage
the reader to ponder whether the central character Joe
is imagining the stalking he seems to be undergoing.
An informed and well written dissection of this modern
phenomenon complete with the usual McEwan themes of love, loss
and beautiful prose.
I enjoyed this novel and found it an excellent companion piece
to Atonement. I must admit I prefer McEwan in this form
than to his enjoyable but farcical Booker-prize winning romp, Amsterdam. I would also encourage fans of the recent film
starring Daniel Craig and Samantha Morton to read the novel
as it differs in some regards from the film, which is
also excellent, though the medium lacks the same narrative
scope.
Perhaps Britain's finest novelist today.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By david@carnell2.freeserve.co.uk on 30 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book on the whim and recommendation of a magazine withouteven reading the reverse to dicover its subject matter. I had no idea that it would turn out be one of the most chilling books I have ever read. The proseis superb and the Keats link is irony at its best. The characters are deep whilst the descriptionof even the most inconsequential items shows what a brilliant author McEwan is. The final chapters are as shocking as they are excellent. Mental health is a disturbing area and McEwan portrays this in the sinister character of Jed Parry who you feel that YOU could meet at any time and who is not confined to the annals of fiction. This is the best book of te ninetiesin my opinion and I would advise everyone to read it asap.
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