15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important novel, moving and all enduring
The finest book by Ian Mcewan I have ever read. The attention to detail on every page gives this novel an extra dimension, and Mcewan has dedicated so much thought to this book that it makes your mind spin. Parts of this are liable to change your life, you will find yourself drawn into Stephen's life and as a consequence you suffer as much as he does. Brilliant and...
Published on 5 Dec 1999
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really did not make much sense
I like my 'demanding' read as much as the other bloke, but I also like books to have stories, something substantive to say about us, the world, life, whatever. I found none in this babbling, pseudo-intellectual assemblage of words.
Published 4 months ago by FM
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is clever enough?,
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)Ian McEwan is like champagne. In fact not just any champagne, but the most expensive champagne on the menu. He is superior, he exudes class, and he is the preferred taste of the refined.
In simple terms A Child in Time is a novel about child abduction, and a parents response to that. At a deeper level the story is hinged upon the two key themes of childhood and time, and is laced with satirical observations of modern society. "In every child there is a hidden adult and in every adult there is a hidden child" is a pivotal observation placed early on in the novel and one which repeatedly returned to. There is Kate, the child that disappears one day in a supermarket and held forever more as a child in her parents minds as they are robbed of her future, Charles, the adult who regresses to childhood in a breakdown, the surreal experience that Stephen, the father, has of floating back in time watching his parents discuss whether or not to have him aborted. Time, McEwan is saying, is not a constant. Time is malleable.
The plot itself is by no means the defining reason for reading this book. Character development is not done by McEwan for its own sake and therefore you never feel particularly sympathetic towards any of his characters. In every character detail (and one thing that Ian McEwan is renowned for is his almost exhaustive attention to detail) there an agenda. Every action or experience of any character is related to a theme. Children. Time. Children. Time. Every sentence is cleverly carved for achieve maximum literary effect. Even the structure of the text has a purpose as the observant reader will notice clever shifts between conditional, perfect, and imperfect tenses to demonstrate passage or insurmountability of time.
Essentially then this novel is clever. The plot is middling, the characters are average. But the overall package is clever. My problem though with this book, and in fact with McEwan in general, I just don't always need clever. I don't need to be reading a book and pouncing on paragraphs spotting on literary devices. Sometimes I just want to be reading a book because quite simply I am desperate to know what happens at the end.
Which is the thing with champagne isn't it? You would almost never turn it down. You even feel a little bit special to be drinking it. It makes you feel worthy. Yet, just sometimes, maybe you don't want champagne, you just want half a lager.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is also an interesting political backdrop to the book.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)The London reader is right : this IS the finest book by a writer of wonderful books and was a much better candidate for the Booker than the slim-by-comparison 'Amsterdam'. As well as the agonising exploration of how a man feels whose child has just disappeared, there is also a fascinating political backdrop to the book which is set in the near future (at the time it was written): my A level group and I guessed around 1996. McEwan supposes a 'nanny' PM to whom he carefully avoids assigning a gender. Did he envisage Thatcher still in power? However, the official Child Care Handbook, which the central character is helping to write, sounds more like a Blair project. It is this kind of aspect that makes re-reading McEwan's work so rewarding.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't Look Now" meets "A Brief History of Time",
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)A riveting read from McEwan. Taking a brilliant premise he successfully melds themes of despair and loss, responsibility and obligation, with the essence of childhood as viewed through the space/time conundrum...
But this is no dry, academic tome. The prose is spare, but alive with beauty and insight, particularly when describing children and the nature of childhood.
It's a book that's easily and fairly quickly read, but one whose ideas seem so alive and vital that they continue to burrow away at you long after you've turned the final page...and it even has a happy ending!
Great stuff, and if you enjoy this I'd urge you to read John Banville, the master
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book that really makes you think.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Child in Time (New Windmills) (Hardcover)The book seems at first to be about a father learning to cope after the disappearance of his daughter, but there is so much more than that. It makes you think about the relativity of time, an hour can seem like seconds, or seconds a lifetime. It also tells us about something that we all subconciously believe - that we could go back to the simple time of childhood and live as children again if only we could afford it. This book teaches us that children are innocent, and to go back to being a child without that essential innocence is impossible and you could not survive like it, but also that once you truly know that you can never be a child again, you cannot survive as an adult either. We all need some form of innocence to survive either the innocence of being a child, or that that we could become one again if we choose to. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants to think about what they have read. I would also recommend 'Enduring Love' also by Ian McEwan to anyone who enjoyed 'The Child in Time'.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars English literature is a culture of repressed imagination...,
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)The Child in Time is a vivid representation of the trauma of losing a child, and McEwan explores abstract concepts of time&language,using theoretical physics to legitimise his story. The book is to some extent political, as it criticises a 'Thatcherite', auhtoritarian regime, and forebodes about the future state of England. McEwan is fascinated with birth-like imagery, and presents children as the scientists of the future. As an intriguing and insightful novel, this book is superb, and recommended to everybody!
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully traumatic,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)Ian McEwan is by far my favourite author, not just for the tremendously skillful prose he crafts in each book, but for the places he takes the mind.
A a parent of young children including a 4 year old daughter, I was first horrified, then terrified, then left distraught. The ending sweetens things slightly. Having said all that the book is excellent.
It's like bungy jumping. You know you are going to hate it but you put yourself through it anyway and feel better about yourself when you've done it.
Ians books make me visit those dark corners which I would normally pretend weren't there. I've not met anybody who does this so well.
My only critism is that the book felt it lost it's way a bit with the main characters friend who regresses to childhood through stress.
As always you won't be able to put the book down, and will become an addict, like me, when you've read it.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably McEwan's Best Book,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child in Time (Collected Edition) (Hardcover)Ian McEwan is not a writer for the weak of heart. His tale is cruel yet amazingly full of love. The love for parents, the love for the missing child and the love between a man and woman. The novel weaves a web around the reader, spinning him into the different levels of space and time, the different circles of a story which works like a never ending spiral. McEwan forgets the lurid details of his short stories to concentrate on relationships between man and wife, father and daughter. Moving. In one word.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The nbest book i have ever read,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child in Time (Collected Edition) (Hardcover)I had to read "The Child In Time" as part of my A-level syllabus work. The first time I began to read it I didn't think much of it. However, oncde I started to read it in my own time, it was the most fascinating book I have ever read. The was McEewan plays with the ideas of time not being so structured, the ideas of all of us as adults still living like the child we once were. The emotions that McEwan emphasises - the loss of a child (stephen & Julie), the loss of child hood (Charles Darke) and the loss of time, fiends and life. He is the most marvellous and talented author of the late twentieth century. It is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read./ Apart from "The Child In Time" I would also recommend "Amsterdam" as being the next best book written by McEwwan to read, as it is as dazzling as "The Child In Time"
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly moving - makes you question everything,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)This is the best Ian McEwan I have ever read - and they are all good. This book is profoundly sad and at the same time extremely clever, linking the themes of time and childhood in a variety of different ways. Once begun it was impossible to put down. As in Enduring Love, McEwan manages to create a constant tension suggesting imminent catastrophe. One of the finest books I have read.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found The Child in Time very interesting.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Child In Time (Paperback)The Child In Time is the first book that I have read by Ian McEwan and from the beginning of the book I was completly fascinated by McEwan's style of writing. Often McEwan provides such an in depth account of events that I felt I was there with Stephen experiencing all that happens to him. I was completly enthralled by the first chapter and I only hoped that McEwan had continued to captivate me as much as the first chapter did,
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The Child In Time by Ian McEwan (Paperback - 5 Jun 1997)