The Child In Time Paperback – 5 Jun 1997
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The Child in Time opens with a harrowing event. Stephen Lewis, a successful author of children's books, takes his 3-year-old daughter on a routine Saturday morning trip to the supermarket. While waiting in line, his attention is distracted and his daughter is kidnapped. Just like that. From there, Lewis spirals into bereavement that has effects on his relationship with his wife, his psyche and time itself: "It was a wonder there could be so much movement, so much purpose, all the time. He himself had none." This beautifully haunting book won a 1987 Whitbread Prize. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Spooky...a wonderful novel" (Observer)
"The Child in Time is an extraordinary achievement" (Guardian)
"It is marvellously written, moving, serious, readable... If you want to be appalled, refreshed, exhilarated, enlivened - read it" (Sunday Times)
"His masterpiece" (Christopher Hitchens)
"Artistically, morally, and politically, he excels" (The Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
For me, the best thing about this book is the quality of the writing. I find when reading The Child In Time that I can visualise perfectly the scenes and empathise with the feelings McEwan describes, despite having never experienced the trauma of losing a child, the break-up of my marriage or witnessing a friend's mental breakdown. That to me is the mark of a top-class writer. I felt that the characters were utterly believable, and although the plot may not be action-packed from start to finish I liked that about it because somehow that makes it more starkly realistic.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning of this review, I know everyone who reads The Child In Time will feel differently about it, and just because I love it doesn't mean you will. The reviews below just seem overall to be negative about this book and I wanted to speak out in favour of a book that I feel is beautifully written and ultimately uplifting.
The novel follows a narrative trajectory that is common to many of McEwan's works: one significant - and in this case highly tragic - event leads to a period of disintegration and an exploration of themes.
In 'The Child In Time' a virtuosity of interwoven storylines all centre on the protagonist Stephen Lewis, and offer a deep exploration of the nature of the personal and the private. These two worlds are juxtaposed brilliantly, and with great subtlety. Stephen is presented as father, children's author, member of a government committee on childcare and friend. As in 'Saturday' there are lengthy passages involved with the minutaie of professional life - in this case Whitehall - but perhaps some of the political machinations become more relevant to the reader when viewed as embodiments of the Government stance on childcare, and the more self-centred ideology of the time. It is wrong to criticise the book on account of these sections seeming 'dull' or 'irrelevant' as has been the case below, as they are all part of the common theme of the novel; whether political life is relevant to the reader or not should not matter when it is the nature of time and childhood that is in fact being discussed. This is relevant to us all.
Further weight is given to McEwan's premise in the contrast of the rural and the urban; the rural embodying the return to the private self, the public world of city life presented as a complacent treadmill of government reports, noise and people.Read more ›
The book manages to depict all of this, with realistic, fully formed and yet novel characters, whilst also commenting on British life as it was and as it could have been in a matter of years. As well as the ridiculous workings of politics and spin, the effects of television and the press are shown and the world of publishing is represented by Darke. In this way, McEwan evokes a whole credible environment that supports his points.
My main criticism of the novel is McEwan's tendency towards the sentimental, and in particular his conventional and less than realistic views of men (as active) and women (passive), which undermines the richness and scope of humanity that is such an asset in this tale. I would say this is something evident in his novels as a whole.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have enjoyed all of the Ian McEwans novels I have read. This one was just peculiar. It was good enough to keep me reading, but I honestly couldn't recommend it to anyone.Published 2 months ago by cheryl
The copy I received was heavily annotated.
But I don't care.
I read this at Uni, just wanted to re-read it.
It was fun reading the annotations.
I am giving up on Ian McEwan - he is forever going "round and round the mulberry bush" and the underlying suggestion as to how clever he is is getting a bit tedious.Published 5 months ago by KD
Just what you'd expect from Mr Mckewan, excellently written, great storyline and food for thought......Published 6 months ago by J lelliott
I'm surprised I hadn't read tis one before. Classic, engaging Ian McEwanPublished 7 months ago by M. Helbert
Hmmmm, a strangely disjointed and strange read. It wasn't exactly enjoyable. I wanted to love it ......but it's flawed.Published 8 months ago by Postscript