- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Jonathan Cape (2 Sept. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0224101994
- ISBN-13: 978-0224101998
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.6 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1,267 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Children Act Hardcover – 2 Sep 2014
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Compulsively readable... McEwan’s prose keeps its cutting edge and his books are the ones the reading public still crave… A masterly balance between research and imagination… One feels an immediate pleasure in returning to prose of uncommon clarity, unshowiness and control" (The Times)
"Classic McEwan… It’s a pleasure from start to finish, one not to be interrupted" (Guardian)
"A powerful, humane novel" (Evening Standard)
"One of the finest writers alive" (Sunday Times)
"McEwan writes as beautifully and elegantly as ever, his prose quintessentially English in its restraint, one meticulously chosen word hinting at depths of emotion" (Washington Post)
"A finely written, engaging read… Poignant, challenging and lyrical" (Sunday Express)
"A class act by one of our finest novelists." (Viv Groskop Red)
"A compelling moral dilemma [with] a moving and heartfelt denouement." (Tatler)
"Shows McEwan as a master of fiction." (Olivia Cole GQ)
"It is one most extraordinary, powerful, moving reading experiences of my life. It is an utterly remarkable novel, delicately balanced, perfectly crafted, beautifully written." (Alberto Manguel)
Ian McEwan will focus on the contested domains of religion and family life for his forthcoming novel, The Children Act, according to his publisher Jonathan Cape. Due to be published on 4 September 2014, The Children Act puts ideas of adult responsibility on trial with a plot that revolves around parents who are refusing treatment for their sick son because of their religious beliefs. The novel centres on the presiding judge at the high court, who is a woman. Speaking at last month's Oxford literary festival, McEwan described the denial of medical help on religious grounds "utterly perverse and inhumane", according to the Telegraph, arguing that "the secular mind seems far superior in making reasonable judgments". "There's an almost consumerist notion that the pursuit of individual happiness cuts across the interests of children," McEwan said. Citing cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics, McEwan praised the 1989 Children's Act, which enshrines the child's welfare as the "paramount consideration" in any court ruling, calling it a "remarkable and civilised piece of legislation". The novelist has long been suspicious of organised faith, telling the Believer in 2005 that he has "no patience whatsoever" with religion. "I'm not against religion in the sense that I feel I can't tolerate it," he said, "but I think written into the rubric of religion is the certainty of its own truth. And since there are 6,000 religions currently on the face of the Earth, they can't all be right. And only the secular spirit can guarantee those freedoms, and it's the secular spirit that they contest." According to McEwan's publisher, Dan Franklin, the new novel is "classic McEwan, demonstrating yet again his extraordinary ability to speak to both head and heart." The novelist launched a career which has combined critical acclaim and bestselling success in 1975, with a collection of short stories which touched on child sexual abuse, First Love, Last Rites. The Cement Garden was published in 1978, the story of a brother and sister who bury their mother in the cellar and leave civilisation behind. McEwan won the Booker for the first time in 1998 with Amsterdam, the story of two friends who plot each other's murder, and has been shortlisted a further four times. (The Guardian 2014-07-31)See all Product description
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Although the prose was sparkling, always original, interesting and elegant without being conspicuously clever, I was disappointed with several aspects of the plot, primarily (and please note I'm wording these as carefully as I can to avoid plot spoilers, so excuse me if they sound a little opaque):
- although some of the details of the judge and her husband's relationship were portrayed well, the marital crisis that opens the book, and some of the subsequent actions that arise from it, simply did not ring true
- I felt there was a certain amount of tokenism in the way famous or infamous real-life cases were referenced in the earlier part of the narrative, almost as if McEwan had a list by the side of his keyboard that he had been told or felt compelled to shoehorn in somewhere alongside the fictitious case portrayed here, as if it was a recipe to make the fictional one more convincing
- I thought the main hospital scene was unbelievable and faintly ludicrous, particularly given how experienced the judge was (more believable if earlier in her career) - though I bet it will be dynamite in the imminent film of the book
- I thought the final meeting between the judge and the boy was contrived and ridiculous because of the distance from home
- I didn't quite get what the musical interludes were about - these also seemed contrived, including her relationship with and the outpourings of the singer she accompanies on the piano, his own crisis coming suddenly from nowhere and being dumped into the main plot rather awkwardly
What I did like was the insight behind the scenes of a judge's life, the reminder that judges are human and fallible too. I also liked the resolution.
Having said all that, I think it is a book worth reading for the points that it raises, which would make it a good book club choice, but I shall not be rereading it and will be giving my copy away.
And yet, there is much that is maddeningly ill-wrought. Fiona is never a convincing character; why she acts on an impulse and becomes guilty of a considerable professional and moral transgression is never properly explained. Cool control freaks like this High Court judge don't step out of line. There is also far too much elaboration of court cases (towards the end Mark Berner's final case is an obvious example), which looks like mere padding when it has no structural or symbolical function. Why send out signals to the reader that Fiona is skating on thin ice by drinking before an important concert when everything then goes swimmingly? And McEwan really does miss a trick: the story is not only about "Gillick competence" and how it impinges on one particular case, it is also about the problem of stalking. This could have been handled in considerable depth rather than featuring solely as one key episode.
I fully identified with the couple and their marriage, but later was a little bemused by the pivotal kiss, which seemed out of character, even though the story admitted as much. With all the lack of intuition she demonstrated later, and her experiences influencing her relationship with her husband, the kiss jarred with my understanding of the character.
This doesn't stop me from giving it 5 stars for the writing alone.
McEwan has crafted a poignant indictment of the well intentioned failure of the law to intervene in the lives of children and the shortcomings of adults - be they parents or professionals. He does this all in his crisp and economic prose which is typically well researched and peppered with current affairs providing a real world context.
The asinine nature of the law is tellingly explored by allusion to real cases many of which will be familiar to the reader. These are discussed further in the author’s end piece. References to Gillick, Sally Clark, joint enterprise and conjoined twins certainly add credence to the author’s important message.
The meticulous research into the law and the accurate cultural context created set to make this book an important record of 21st Century social history.
Themes of relationships, male sexuality and classical music are also ideas which identify this as the work of McEwan.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
rape episode not necessary and totally out of character.