Saturday Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD
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The critical response to Saturday must be making Ian McEwan a very happy man (not that his virtually unassailable position as Britains leading novelist has been in doubt). While contemporaries (and rivals) Martin Amis and Will Self have had much more hit-or-miss records recently, each new McEwan novel gleans a host of plaudits, and Atonement has been generally hailed as his masterpiece. Saturday may not enjoy quite such acclaim, but its a remarkably accomplished piece of work, as richly drawn and characterised as anything he has written.
McEwan's protagonist is neurosurgeon Henry Perowne, a man comfortably ensconced in an enviable upper middle class existence. His wife is a successful newspaper lawyer, his daughter Daisy a budding poet. But as he wakes one Saturday morning and witnesses a plane accident through his window, he is not yet aware that this is a harbinger of a sustained assault on all that he holds dear. Its a McEwan trademark to begin his novels with a striking or violent rupture of everyday existence, but this opening is a prelude to his most impressively sustained narrative yet. Its the publication day of Henrys daughter's poetry collection, but a chance encounter with a drunken trio emerging from a lap-dancing club ends violently, even as a march against the war in Iraq streams past nearby. And this encounter with the menacing Baxter, main antagonist of the group, is to have fateful consequences. As Saturday progresses, Henry is forced to examine every aspect of his life and beliefs, not least his attitude to the war.
Unlike many of his peers, McEwan is not content to reduce the issues of the war to simple opposition, in which Tony Blair is characterised as a war criminal. Henry has treated a victim of Saddam's brutality, and although a comic encounter with the Prime Minister himself is a highlight of the book, both Henry (and his creator) are obliged to consider the complex skein of the conflict from all sides. While there are missteps (the poetic daughter, Daisy, is thinly drawn), McEwan's invigorating and trenchant novel is an unmissable experience. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Dazzling... Profound and urgent" (Observer)
"The supreme novelist of his generation" (Sunday Times)
"He remains at the top of his game - assured, accomplished and ambitious" (Daily Telegraph)
"A book of great maturity, beautifully alive to the fragility of happiness and all forms of violence... Everyone should read Saturday" (Financial Times)
"An exemplary novel... It is undoubtedly McEwan's best" (Mail on Sunday)
"A rich book, sensuous and thoughtful... McEwan has found in Saturday the right form to showcase his dazzling talents" (The Times)
"Richly laden. McEwan pulls out all the stops. A rich book, sensuous and thoughtful. McEwan has found in Saturday the right form to showcase his dazzling talents" (Sunday Telegraph)
"A book of great moral maturity, beautifully alive to the fragility of happiness and all forms of violence... Everyone should read Saturday... Artistically, morally and politically, he excels" (The Times)
"It's the good writing and the truthful and convincing way of rendering consciousness that makes Saturday so engrossing" (Colm Toibin)
"Saturday is wonderfully involving and affecting on every page. Everybody with any interest in contemporary literature will want to read it at once" (Evening Standard) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I couldn't finish this book because it annoyed/frustrated me for the following reasons:
- The author doesn't seem to know what Londoners whose social status is below lower-middle class are actually like, how they behave, dress, speak, etc. The character of Baxter appears to be informed by switching between watching Bugsy Malone and Snatch.
- The main character is extremely annoying. He is incredibly presumptious. (possibly intentional)
- I also feel - when I compare this book to Amsterdam that he is very similar to the character of Clive in that book. I can't help but feel the author is channeling himself in his characters (not necessarily a bad thing), but Henry and his neurosurgery in Saturday is very similar to Clive and his music in Amsterdam. It often reads like the author wants to show us everything he has learnt about that particular specialism from his research even when it doesn't add to the plot and adversely affects the pace of the story.
- The book is painfully descriptive. I accept that it's a whole book about a single day but the descriptions also make the story difficult to follow - the story often drifts off on tangents as the character thinks about previous events in his life (which feel irrelevent to the story and turns out have no relevence to the plot in the end). You find you forget where the character is or what they were doing in present day as a result - this happens a lot. At one point there is also a sentence so descriptive it lasts for 10 lines!
- The events that drive the plot appear to be totally out of place given the nature of the story.
If you have high blood pressure i don't recommend this book as it will severely test your patience.
McEwan has clearly done a lot of research into neurosurgery but don't we know it. Like many authors who research a topic in detail he wants us to know and appreciate his hard work and so labours the point relentlessly. Subscription to the Lancet is always available to me should I want to know more on the subject. I think he would have spent his time more profitably developing a storyline and some charm and depth to his characters.
What makes this novel a good read is the juxtaposition of alternating viewpoints throughout the narrative. You have the anti-war march demonstrating the macrocosom of the world stage happening in the background while the microcosm of everyday life is whirling it's way around the edges. Daisy, Henry's daughter represents the 'dominant' viewpoint of the day - anti-war - while his son, Theo, is more concerned with his own life independant of what is happening in the world.
It is this look at the world from the right and wrong end of the telescope that gives the novel it's scope and power, and also that you never know the full story unless you have all the facts, there are always mitigating circumstances and you can see the good and bad in every situation.
To sum up this is a novel about one life in one day but it encompasses the world and a particular moment in history to breathtaking effect.
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