46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
For the head and heart, 22 Nov. 2006
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.
Whereas a novel like 'Enduring Love' cannot live up to its infamous opening passage, 'The Child In Time' has a sense of balance that is hard to find in many modern novels. Whilst certainly not a traditional closure, the unity and proportion of the novel is nigh-on perfect. Whilst it may be a novel of Ideas, and for the most part follows the protagonist's masculine emotional bluntness, it is also by the end profoundly moving. A spine-tingling climax to a genuinely brilliant novel.