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.