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Saturday Hardcover – 24 Jan 2005

268 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; 1st edition (24 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224072994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224072991
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,875 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.

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Amazon Review

The critical response to Saturday must be making Ian McEwan a very happy man (not that his virtually unassailable position as Britain’s 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 it’s 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. It’s 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. It’s the publication day of Henry’s 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.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By muddy-funster on 30 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
It was surprising to find so many 1- and 2-star reviews here at Amazon. "Saturday" has a lot going for it. Much has been made of the technical impressiveness of McEwan's prose; his meticulous research into multiple topics; the attention to detail in the stream-of-conciousness narration of the central character, whose constantly calculating approach to life seemed entirely fitting for a brain surgeon (sorry, "neurosurgeon").

I found the meditations on the state of society and current affairs of 2003 particularly satisfying. One of the best sections was the argument between Daisy and Henry about the rationale for the Iraq war, youthful moral absolutism on the one hand and sloppy pragmatic consequentialism on the other. (My own position on this issue has oscillated between the two over the last six years.) There were some gripping moments (I won't spoil things by going into detail) and, perhaps, some clever allegorical points being made - invasive brain surgery being contrasted with invasive military action, for example. And I'm pretty sure that learning how Henry thinks has, in a small way, changed how I think, for the better.

On the other hand, it was equally surprising to find serious critics absolutely bowled over by this novel; words like "dazzling" and "stunning" seem to crop up a lot in reviews. They all seem to ignore the novel's most obvious flaw: a family of uniformly high achievers will not only be not particularly likeable, but, when the achievements are *this* impressive, almost certain not to exist.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LittleMoon VINE VOICE on 18 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is my third McEwan, and I'm still relatively new to him, but what Atonement (which I enjoyed), Enduring Love (which I enjoyed apart from Jed's overly verbose letters) and Saturday have in common is their stunning prose. Let's forget about plots for a second, and just indulge ourselves in sentence after sentence of pure style, grace and elegance. McEwan is supremely eloquent; surely one of the finest British writers writing now, and Saturday is a genuine pleasure to read.

McEwan, and contemporary literary fiction generally, isn't big on plot at the moment. If you're looking for that, you'll be disappointed. What McEwan does do well is in the detail, and he does it brilliantly in Saturday, opening up the brain of his neurosurgeon protagonist, and letting his thoughts pour out. When you read this novel, you aren't being told a story, you are simply imbibing the thoughts of one man, one Saturday.

Plotless, the novel isn't though. Enough happens on this Saturday, from the early morning plane on fire, to the minor car crash and the final knife-wielding consequences (which reminded me a lot of Enduring Love), to keep the reader moving. Our protagonist's own sense of unease gently piles on the pressure, with brief respites for jazz and cooking. Interesting that the climax of the nameless foreboding that hangs around this self-consciously post 9-11 novel, with the bursting of Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and terrorism into our cultural consciousness, eventually materialises in the opportunist Baxter and his sidekick.

Those who lambaste the pages devoted to the squash game have missed the point. This whole section is a study of the competitive nature of an individual - the tension so palpable that I found my own heartbeat pounding with empathy.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Morris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Saturday is a day in the life of Henry Perowne, a Fitzrovia Square dwelling neurosurgeon. The book follows an eventful day in his life, describing & detailing every thought he has about his surroundings, family, coworkers and generally his life. When a minor traffic accident brings unwelcome elements into his life, his diurnal evaluations will count for nothing as a series of coincidences threaten his very way of life.

For the first 30 pages I was absolutely captivated by this book, a simple description of Henry waking up in the middle of the night to a state of uncanny alertness and feeling a compulsion to walk to the window, only to see a burning jet making an emergency landing into Heathrow was simply magical.

The rest of the book follows suit well, but doesn't recapture the initial hypnosis. McEwan's writing style makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck sometimes. The characters are well fleshed out as often trivial events in Henry's life trigger a spiral into introspective asides detailing his past and his feelings towards the components of his existence. As a result you get to understand the inner workings of Henry's mind, what propels, feeds and most importantly, drives him. The book is set in 2003's London, on the day of the anti-Iraq-war protests and the vivid descriptions of his meanderings around Charlotte, Gower & University Street are true to life, a great touch to an already great book if you know the area.

It is after we have gained a very comprehensive grasp of who Henry is that he is thrown into turmoil and you read with baited breath waiting to see whether he will live upto your expectations of the character. Simply electric reading, I struggled to put this book down. If you are new to Ian McEwan this is as good a place to start as any, I am hooked and would recommend this book to anyone!!
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