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The Cement Garden [Large Print] Hardcover – Large Print, 29 Sep 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Chivers Large print (Chivers, Windsor, Paragon & C; Large type edition edition (29 Sep 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 0754072223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754072225
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,672,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Darkly impressive' -- The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 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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17 of 19 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 Sep 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caterkiller on 12 Mar 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a dark, disturbing but exhilarating book. It is kind of a turbo-charged Lord of the Flies, except it replaces the youthful adventures of that book with a disturbing twist on the everday and the prosaic. You can tell from the start that there will be no happy ending; as the back garden is covered by a layer of concrete and cement it symbolises an end to a "normal" childhood, and the characters descend into an incestuous "fake-family" with children playing the roles of Mum, Dad and Baby. A well written and compelling read and the shortness of the book means that there is no let up. Brilliant.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
Living in an urban wasteland, four children survive the illness and death of their parents and contrive to carry on living alone through most of a long, hot summer. Told from the point of view of the elder boy, Jack, their solution to their mother's death seems entirely logical. Darkly introspective, Jack's thoughts and feelings dominate the novel. His love and desire for his older sister fuels the narrative but the younger boy and girl are equally well rounded. Their efforts to stay together and survive would not, one suspects, have lasted long, if it wasn't for the long summer school holiday and the arrangements their mother had left in place for a regular payment of cash from her savings. There is a brutal logic behind all their activities, but a tenderness too, especially in the way they allow the youngest boy, Tom, to regress to babyhood so that he becomes the girls' toy but also the reason they preserve their notions of civilised behaviour in what has become a strange and feral world.

McEwan has the gift of deeply empathetic writing that preserves the intense and alien individuality of an inner consciousness and the fragilities and compulsions that can govern the activities of children. This, his enormously impressive debut as a novelist, also has an air of someone discovering and overcoming the problems of writing at length and managing a novella, when he is more at home in the short story. Later, of course, he went on to triumph in the novel too, but here he is seen with the attributes of compression and exactitude at full power.
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