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The critical response to Saturday must be making Ian McEwan a very happy man (not that his virtually unassailable position as Britains leading novelist has been in doubt). While contemporaries (and rivals) Martin Amis and Will Self have had much more hit-or-miss records recently, each new McEwan novel gleans a host of plaudits, and Atonement has been generally hailed as his masterpiece. Saturday may not enjoy quite such acclaim, but its a remarkably accomplished piece of work, as richly drawn and characterised as anything he has written.
McEwan's protagonist is neurosurgeon Henry Perowne, a man comfortably ensconced in an enviable upper middle class existence. His wife is a successful newspaper lawyer, his daughter Daisy a budding poet. But as he wakes one Saturday morning and witnesses a plane accident through his window, he is not yet aware that this is a harbinger of a sustained assault on all that he holds dear. Its a McEwan trademark to begin his novels with a striking or violent rupture of everyday existence, but this opening is a prelude to his most impressively sustained narrative yet. Its the publication day of Henrys daughter's poetry collection, but a chance encounter with a drunken trio emerging from a lap-dancing club ends violently, even as a march against the war in Iraq streams past nearby. And this encounter with the menacing Baxter, main antagonist of the group, is to have fateful consequences. As Saturday progresses, Henry is forced to examine every aspect of his life and beliefs, not least his attitude to the war.
Unlike many of his peers, McEwan is not content to reduce the issues of the war to simple opposition, in which Tony Blair is characterised as a war criminal. Henry has treated a victim of Saddam's brutality, and although a comic encounter with the Prime Minister himself is a highlight of the book, both Henry (and his creator) are obliged to consider the complex skein of the conflict from all sides. While there are missteps (the poetic daughter, Daisy, is thinly drawn), McEwan's invigorating and trenchant novel is an unmissable experience. --Barry Forshaw
'A masterpiece of suspense and contemporary reflection' -- The Word
'Pretty Fabulous' -- The Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Set over twenty four hours, against the backdrop of the anti-war protest march in February 2003 London, the story follows a day in the life a one Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon,... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Gurjit
Never previously been a fan on Ian McEwan but, once I got into it I loved this book. It was all about what a neurosurgeon did in one day. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MRS M J OSBORNE
A boring monologue, relieved by sections that were interesting, Henry Perowne is a likeable character, and the storyline is good when you can find it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by christine 43
I really enjoyed this book for the lyricism of its writing and its themes of life, meaning and arts. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Coliboo
Parts of this book kept me enthralled while quite a lot of it was tedious in that there was so much waffle. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Barry
Like so many ordinary readers of Ian McEwan--as opposed to professional pundits, who clearly embrace him unconditionally--I'm consistently blown away by his masterly control of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike Brecher