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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic
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...
Published on 19 Jan. 2002 by Penguin Egg

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Look a little deeper
Although I read this book some years ago now, I still remember the subtlety of McEwan's writing well. It struck me because the subject matter risked being "sick" or crude on the surface, but I found that on deeper analysis it was not and wider themes emerged.
One of the strongest memories of the book is the way in which McEwan created the feeling of heat...
Published on 3 Oct. 2001


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4.0 out of 5 stars Something nasty in the woodshed - well actually the cellar, 26 April 2010
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
This is early McEwan at its best. He gets right into the skin of Jack, an adolescent boy with some pretty horrible personal habits and paints a picture of family life which is ordinary as far as the boy is concerned and anything but ordinary to the reader.

It begins with four children - two boys and two girls, a mother and a father.

The house has seen better days, the children, often left to their own devices are orphaned over the course of the story. With echoes of Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' they establish their own hierachy and even a kind of routine as their lives gradually descend into anarchy and chaos.

Ironically, the one thing that unites them is their determination to stop the family from being split up and taken into care.

Ian McEwan is one of the few writers I know that has the power to terrify and appall his readers and the amazing thing is that he does it with an extremely simple and direct style. Almost before you realise it you find yourself in a very dark place, desperately trying to get out.

Definitely not for the faint hearted. The Cement Garden is a bleak read which is a modern classic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Dark - just as i like it!, 4 Aug. 2006
By 
Mr. G. Bridgeman-clarke "Graham BC" (Rayleigh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Vintage Blue) (Paperback)
I enjoy Ian McEwans books and I have read most of them. I rate this book highly as it was his first (I believe) and its hard hitting.

The story revolves around the death of the parents of 4 children and how the two eldest try to hide the fact as they dread being split up and put in care. I honestly felt for the characters in the book and in a way could identify with their problems.

The book does cover the incestuous side but thats really incidental to the book.

A good read and a thoght provoking novel.

Read the book then get a copy of the film. if anything its darker then the novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Classic, 13 July 2010
By 
Amazon Customer "MjD" (Edinburgh, Scotland. { Kobe, Japan. Saipan. Alabama.}) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
Great small novel about a family of children trying to survive alone, after their mother dies, in a hostile world which leads them to be drawn to each other in disturbing ways. Darkly perverse, gothic tale.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, 19 Feb. 2009
By 
Kellie (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
This is the fourth book I have read by Ian McEwan and once again I had to close the book a few times to digest what I had just read. Although I found this story highly disturbing, I couldn't help but get caught up in McEwan's ebb and flow of writing. There wasn't a moment I wanted to put it down (and didn't need to as it is quite a short story of 127pages). I would recommend this to anyone that truly enjoys authors that write on the perverse and daring cuff of what society would deem as unacceptable. Read this.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Look a little deeper, 3 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Hardcover)
Although I read this book some years ago now, I still remember the subtlety of McEwan's writing well. It struck me because the subject matter risked being "sick" or crude on the surface, but I found that on deeper analysis it was not and wider themes emerged.
One of the strongest memories of the book is the way in which McEwan created the feeling of heat and intensity. As the plot thickens, you can almost feel the weather heating up adding to the sense of impending doom. If this isn't too overblown, it was almost like watching a thermometer rise and wondering if it will get to bursting point.
The title also suggests that the subject of incest is not to be solely focused on. The 'cement garden' evokes images of nature, perhaps innocence, being crushed by this hard and threatening innanimate object. It leaves things stuck in a particular time and place, perhaps like the caracters find themselves.
I don't see the problem with the subject matter. If issues cannot be addressed in the public domain, then democracy has failed. This book requires a deeper reading to discover that there is a wealth more than there appears to be on the surface.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 11 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So subtle, yet raw. Short, but not sweet. Who would ever dare to write such a book, and who would dare to read it.....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly, 21 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
this novel tackles the same scenario as Lord of the Flies in the sense of children finding themselves without adult guidance or caring. The handling of their reactions and decline is masterfully tackled by McEwan and it remains one of the most memorable books I have read. I can't think of any reader who would not be gripped by the dilemma and the outcomes, whatever their favourite genre normally. Very highly recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A dissapointment for me, 10 Aug. 2013
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
Well, I'm afraid that I have to disagree with the critics. I found this book boring, the ultimate sin for a writer, and I was glad to finish it. I suppose this comes under the heading of "experimental writing". It was a huge disappointment for me, particularly as I am a big fan of Ian McEwan. Perhaps the fault is mine, but I did not like it in any way.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing story that makes for a thought provoking novel, 9 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
The Cement Garden, Ian McEwans first ever novel, is relatively short by normal standards - only 127 pages long. Without reading it some people might automatically think that it could not subsequently be as deep and developed as other novels. These people would be wrong. For in those 127 pages lies a story about a fascinating family of children who have to learn to look after themselves and pull together after their parents die, a story that at times is not only shocking but uncomfortably disturbing. Most importantly though it is thought provoking to an extent where it is impossible not to have an opinion come the end. The setting of the novel is very atmospheric and relevant to the theme of the story. It is set in the family house which is isoloated almost from the outside world - there are no neighbours or relatives, all that remains is the rubble and destruction of what used to be a community and what used to lie a family! The narrative is told through the eyes of Jack, a young boy entering puberty who has no freinds (the family as a whole has no-one). He spends most of his time fantasising about his older sister Julie. McEwan brilliantly underplays the relationship between Jack and Julie, it evolves from a typical sibling relationship into a much more sensual and deeper one with ease and care. Their sexual experience is not done in a grusome way, rather it has been built up throughout the novel so the reader can truely understand why they are committing the act. Though some of the situations seem 'unreal' at times, we still get a sense of realism and the book is easierly readerable. McEwan provides an insight into a families relationship and how they are trapped together with no escape. It's no wonder judging from this novel why McEwan went on to great things like winning the 'Booker Price'.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing tale of a teenager's coming-of-age., 28 Jun. 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
In this discomforting 1978 novel, Booker Prize-winner Ian McEwan shows all the promise that makes his later, more fully developed novels so compelling--the same intensity, the same psychologically intriguing characters, the same haunting darkness, and the same exploration of sexuality. In the oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere of an old house, one of the few left standing in a London urban renewal area strewn with rubble, a family of four children, ranging in age from six to seventeen, try to survive on their own after the death of their father, first, and then, their mother. Because the three younger children will have to go into "care" if their mother's death is known, they dispose of her body themselves in the basement of their decaying house and carry on as if their parents are still alive.
Seventeen-year-old Julie is ostensibly the adult in charge, though fifteen-year-old Jack has promised his dying mother that he will share the responsibilities. Jack, who narrates the story, is filled with all the sexual angst of an isolated young boy, never part of the mainstream, trying to figure out who he is, at the same time that he has been thrust into an adult role that he cannot fulfill. During the hottest summer on record, a new complication arises with the appearance of Julie's boyfriend, Derek, a man in his twenties, who upsets the fragile equilibrium of the family by investigating their secrets and seeking out the source of the sweetish smell emanating from the basement. All the emotional and sexual tensions which McEwan has nurtured throughout the novel peak in a conclusion that is both repulsive and utterly compelling.
This novel is not for the faint of heart, sometimes so revolting and disturbing in its psychological details, all vividly rendered, that the reader may question whether to continue reading. Ultimately, however, McEwan's concise and polished style, his ability to choose exactly the right word, and his sense of pacing kept this reader going, even as the family dynamics degenerated into a psychotic twilight zone. The sense that each character is alone and that life is dark and unlikely to change for the better is a despairing commentary on life, a bleak and chilling reminder that no one can ever control fate. Eerie, provocative, and suspenseful, McEwan uses all his talents here to create a novel of small scope and scale. In later novels, thankfully, he applies these same talents to a broader canvas, leading to richer, more subtle, and better developed fiction. Mary Whipple
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