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The Child In Time Paperback – 5 Jun 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099755017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099755012
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

"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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I felt compelled to write a review of this book after reading the ones already submitted below. I know that enjoyment of a book is personal to the reader, but I was surprised to find that there were so few positive reviews. The Child In Time is one of my favourite books of all time and certainly my favourite of the novels by McEwan that I have read. I disagree with the opinions that only parents, couples and politicians will enjoy or get anything from this book - I first read it for my A Level in English Literature (i.e. as a 17 year old student) and loved it, and have since re-read it at age 25 and loved it even more because now I'm older - albeit still childless and still not a politician - I have been able to gain more meaning from it and discover new levels to it.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Like the previous reviewer I feel compelled to counter some of the criticism levelled at 'The Child In Time', a novel I believe to be one of Ian McEwan's finest.

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.
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Format: Paperback
'The Child In Time' was my first exposure to McEwan, and despite some reservations, led me to reading the rest of his novels and short stories. The child of the title is not one individual but many, and it is the parallels between childhood and adulthood, sanity and madness, portrayed through a number of 'childhoods', both literal and figurative which makes the book work on a number of levels. The main plot concerns Steven's attempts to find his lost daughter, to accept his loss and to salvage his crumbling marriage. Along the way he is drawn back into his own childhood in a sequence of incidents, often therapeutic, at times unhealthy and downright disturbing, where he is forced into examining both his relationship with his parents, and himself as an individual and as a parent. Throughout the process there is the cautionary figure of Charles Darke, a man denied childhood and regressing in his middle age, and the forays of both into politics, with its own bizarre parent-child structures.
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.
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