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Saturday [Paperback]

Ian McEwan
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2006

Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat.

Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him.

Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099469685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099469681
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,281 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

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Dazzling. Profound and urgent" (Observer)

"The supreme novelist of his generation" (Sunday Times)

"He remains at the top of his game - assured, accomplished and ambitious" (Daily Telegraph)

"Richly laden. McEwan pulls out all the stops. A rich book, sensuous and thoughtful. McEwan has found in Saturday the right form to showcase his dazzling talents" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A book of great moral maturity, beautifully alive to the fragility of happiness and all forms of violence... Everyone should read Saturday... Artistically, morally and politically, he excels" (The Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brussels sprout of a book 30 Oct 2009
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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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
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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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, improbable, uncool 9 Nov 2006
Let's be clear: Ian McEwan is incapable of writing a bad English sentence. In `Saturday', as always, he gets under the skin of his characters with forensic brilliance and I can think of no other contemporary novelist who renders the texture of thought and consciousness with such nimble guile. There are ideas here that strike you with their elegant truth.

So much for form. As far as story goes, `Saturday' scores low. When McEwan writes about the solipsistic artistry of Henry's neuro-surgery or the sentimental tug his over-achieving offspring induce, his tone is frankly embarrassing. In fact, everything about the Perownes' lives is uncool, from the son's young-fogeyish talent for the blues to his daughter's straight-from-the-pages-of-the-Sunday-Times poetry career. `Saturday' further showcases the two chinks in McEwan's formidable armour: dialogue (one has to translate it to believe it) and sex (too much coy information). The final invasion of the family home is wholly improbable and where else, apart from in the pages of a middle-class fantasy, could a rabid thug be disarmed by the lyric beauty of a Matthew Arnold poem?!

I don't know how `Saturday' came into being but it feels like an amalgam of obsessions that had been knocking around the writer's head. Peace demonstrations, the moral complexities of the Iraq war, poetry, jazz and neuro-surgery read more like the

contents of a Sunday supplement than the stuff of real life. Still, we have to judge McEwan relatively - he's probably one of the top three British authors writing today. Hopefully he will set his own bar higher next time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I usually love Ian McEwan and I found this book fabulously well ...
I usually love Ian McEwan and I found this book fabulously well written until...... well, at the end unfortunately I couldn't finish it. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Cara Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very interesting read
Published 1 month ago by Eddie
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of terror
A story that takes place over 24 hours in the life of Perowne, set just after 9/11 and the demonstrations in London against the war in Iraq. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Honeybun
1.0 out of 5 stars What a drag of a book!
This book was selected for me by my book club and that is the only reason I managed to trawl through this tedium. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tony Bendall
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book from McEwean
I found this book very informative if somewhat implausible. It had good pace and well developed characters who all had different and varied interests which McEwen seems to have the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Anthony S Norton
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
A wonderful harrowing story brought to life by a masterful author - he combines a tenderness and brutality as he peels back the skin of his characters.
Published 4 months ago by scallyzon
4.0 out of 5 stars Intensely gripping novel
McEwan shows his brilliant writing skills in this complex novel. It can be read on many different levels. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. S. Hyman
5.0 out of 5 stars good book club read
HI read it for book club - loved atonement so loved this too. A Saturday in the life - a good read lots to talk about - a page turner.
Published 4 months ago by luvmyscholls
5.0 out of 5 stars good story from Ian McEwan
Fortunately I didn't take an awful lot of notice of some of the reviews of this book and I am so pleased i didn't. Read more
Published 5 months ago by jenny Cee
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic exercise?
This is a book to be taken slowly to savour each word. This is the reason I did not give up on it because the plot, necessarily, moved slowly and ponderously. Read more
Published 5 months ago by sue the scribe
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