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The Cement Garden Paperback – 5 Jun 1997

78 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099755114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099755111
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A macabre but unforgettable tale" (John Boyne Guardian)

"Darkly impressive" (The Times)

"Marvellously creates the atmosphere of youngsters given that instant adulthood they all crave, where the ordinary takes on a mysterious glow and the extraordinary seems rather commonplace. It is difficult to fault the writing or the construction of this eerie fable" (Sunday Times)

"An extremely assured, technically adept and compelling piece of work" (Observer)

"A shocking book, morbid, full of repellant imagery - and irresistibly readable...The effect achieved by McEwan's quiet, precise and sensuous touch is that of magic realism - a transfiguration of the ordinary that has far stronger retinal and visceral impact than the flabby surrealism of so many experimental novels" (New York Review of Books)

Book Description

'A superb achievement: his prose has instant, lucid beauty and his narrative voice has a perfect poise and certainty. His account of deprivation and survival is marvellously sure, and the imaginative alignment of his story is exactly right' - Tom Paulin

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on 19 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
A perverse but enchanting book; beautifully written and perfectly constructed. This is a story about a family of children who find themselves orphaned while living in a house surrounded by a wasteland, an image that perfectly reflects the emptiness of their days. Finding themselves without adult guidance, it shows how they slide into sloth and then perversity. Being a writer of consumate skill and a gifted story-teller, McEwan describes this without purple prose but with a sharp eye on human nature. Despite the shocking nature of the story, it has a realistic feel to it - One feels that these events could happen given the circumstances. The characters are delinated so convincingly that the reader, despite the perverse nature of the protaganists actions, is drawn into their dark world and is made to see it from their point of view. A modern classic.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "emilie01" on 15 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
The Cement Garden is McEwan at his best. Crueler than Enduring Love and Amsterdam, The Cement Garden tells the story of four children who fall apart gradually after the death of their mother. Their incestuous behaviour and malicious ways are a delight to read, and the narrator, Jack, is a brilliantly depicted character. Overall, I would highly recommend this. McEwan is truly the master of the chilling short novel, and The Cement Garden is executed with style and definite readibility. The end is too disturbing for words- an excellent read.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Heather VINE VOICE on 16 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Although The Cement Garden was McEwan's first novel, i have only just got around to reading it and was definitely not disappointed. I have found with some other writers, who i have come to 'late' that going back to their earlier work has been a bit of a let down and that later works, where their style has been more perfected have been much more enjoyable and successful. However, i would not say this is the case with McEwan as i found The Cement Garden to be just as successful as some of his later novels.

This novel very much represents McEwan's style and choice of subject matter which he has addressed throughout his writing. The Cement Garden follows the lives of four children after their father, and shortly after, their mother pass away, leaving the siblings to fend for themselves. As their lives begin to disintegrate and the children become further removed from society, their are passages reminiscent of 'Lord of the Flies' which are both shocking and saddening. I do not, however, wish to give the impression that this is a sentimental novel. McEwan writes, as he does in all his fiction, with ease and an unflinching eye when describing death and more disturbingly abnormal sexual relationships.

While The Cement Garden is a very dark novel, it is also a story about adolescence and the awkwarness of growing up especially in an unconventional household as this one. I found his descriptions of the interaction between the siblings to be both honest and raw but fundamentally troubling.

I found this novel extremely disturbing, but McEwan is such an intelligent and unique writer that he seems to create narratives which we are compelled to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 16 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
I thought I was going to hate this - as a keen gardener and lover of wildlife, how could I empathise with a father who intended concreting his entire garden? But the father dies and the children are eventually left to fend for themselves.

Despite being a darkly disturbing novel it somehow manages to grip the imagination and hold the reader's interest. The central story, in many ways so improbable, becomes plausible in the hands of such skilled writing. Ian McEwan portrays the indolence of youth and the hot summer days so vividly that you can hear the buzz of flies and feel the heat rising off the concrete.

In the end, it is easy to imagine how children in such a disturbingly distressing situation managed to slip through the safety net of the authorities.

Whether or not it is an 'enjoyable' read is a moot point but I would urge anyone who has not done so to read it for the sheer thought-provoking brilliance of the writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
The Cement Garden is a creepy and unsettling book. After their parents die four children unite to prevent the outside world from knowing their situation. They fear that people in authority will come and interfere in their lives. This is an attitude carried over from their parents who seem to have cocooned the family in its own bubble. But their idyll cannot last and sibling power politics emerge....

McEwan creates a vivid picture of the hideous "cement garden" created by the father. The house is set in a strange setting of isolation - apparently surrounded by vacated and demolished buildings. The weather is hot and sultry and this permeates the whole book. (There are echoes of this atmosphere at the beginning of Atonement.) We are uncertain about when the story is set - very few clues in the narrative.

Although essentially a novella The Cement Garden is packed with ideas and images. Compelling and sinister.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book will hanunt you: it is horrible and utterly believable, every word dripping with the meaninglessness of life and depression and confusion.
THe plot is quite basic: siblings trying to keep a family together, but its descent into chaos is a chilling addition to fine literature. It is so vivid that you can smell it. TO reveal more would spoil the readers' discovery of the plot.

While I prefer to stick to older classics, this one is truly worth the read. The atmostphere is so realistic and painful, so bleak, which reflects a writing style that is absolutely masterful.

Recommended, but not for the squeamish.
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