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Look a little deeper
on 3 October 2001
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.