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on 6 March 2006
I'm working my way through the Booker 2005 short (and longlist!) and this has been my favourite so far. Some of the prose is purple, but there is a meaningful tale in here. A novel of great insight: of love and forgiveness. And of London. Five stars.
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on 18 February 2010
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it's really interesting the way it explores the minutiae of life and how engrained it is with current culture (in this case, post 9/11 anxiety). I actually reread it in one day to fully appreciate the sense that this is a snapshot of life, which rolls on beyond any 'resolution' the text could give.
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on 17 April 2012
saturday has been around for a while, i only now got round to reading it. it is an amazing book, a beautiful portrait on a slice of london life as well as the modern psyche. i loved the male perspective on family life and marriage and the fragile robustness of the human condition.
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on 24 January 2006
This is a very interesting novel, compelling at times, that reminds us of the power each day of our lives can bring. It tackles life's fragility and lack of predictability in a subtle way, and less direct / in your face compared to the approach of other great British authors like Nick Hornby or Steve Horsfall. A good read
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on 5 June 2006
As a member of a book club, I sometimes read books that are jaw-droppingly bad, books that are so badly written they make me laugh. Well, this isn't one of those books. It's not abominably bad, just tedious.

The book follows the thoughts and actions of Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon, from when he wakes up to when he falls asleep on a Saturday in 2003. Everything he does and thinks is described in mind numbingly boring detail. There's no plot, just a whole day's worth of random stuff. Henry's family are upper-middle-class intellectuals who take themselves extremely seriously and I really couldn't care less what they have for breakfast or what their opinions about Iraq are. Reading this was like watching Big Brother at 3am unedited and with the sound off.
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on 1 February 2006
This is the kind of writing that makes you think - wow, how does he do that? Saturday captures the little details of life with such clarity and emotion that you can't help but hear McEwan's narrative continue even after all of the pages have been turned. A wonderful work of art.
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on 5 February 2011
Saturday is what you would expect from McEwan. Original, Observant, Rich but has a rather unnerving reality-check feel to it. It is an account of one day's life of a neurosurgeon whose life is changed somewhat by events unfolding in a day. An unexpected thriller.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 March 2005
Each day, we all live our lives according to what's happened in the past and what we think is going to happen in the future. Each day the past is different, and the future is potentially different. And each day, you weigh up your whole life. I think that's what McEwan is saying. Of course, most days are uneventful and hardly require any update to one's life story. Henry Perowne's Saturday is not the Saturday he planned. He experiences the forces of past and future more strongly than he usually does, but to some extent we all do what Perowne does each day of our lives. Perowne's Saturday is both typical and extraordinary.
What I think McEwan does brilliantly is describe how human beings see the world, how we shift our focus from the complex detail of our past to the wide unknown future, and how in between there is the intense detail of what's happening right now. What we do in the present is completely influenced by what we know about the past and completely influences the future. So important, but sometimes to be decided in a split second. 'Saturday' really makes you think about this stuff and weaves the strands of it all together like the craftsman he is.
The plot of this novel is something to hang these ideas on. A way to get the central character to think about the whole of his life on this particular day in February 2003.
That date's important: the book is suffused with thoughts of the future that only somebody in February 2003 would be thinking. Thoughts about Iraq, and terrorism, safety on the railways perhaps. In this way, it's a novel linked unusually strongly to real events. Current events for anybody who reads it now.
But maybe McEwan goes a little too far with this attempt at reality. Perowne describes how he meets Tony Blair at Tate Modern and how Blair mistakes him for an artist. Perowne tries to correct him but Blair waves his hand and looks foolish because he won't be told he's wrong. He's convinced his information about Perowne is correct. Get it? I thought this was a clumsy link and bringing a real person into the story so explicitly has the opposite effect of making it real since we know it didn't really happen. The fiction we can believe.
I didn't though have any trouble with the Perowne view of the world and his ambivalence about the looming war with Saddam. Thank goodness McEwan wasn't trying to be too correct here. This seemed to be a balanced view of things from the perspective of a successful man with a happy life and a happy family to protect.
This is very much a novel about family. McEwan is never batter than when he describes how a family works and I was stunned at times by how he gets to the heart of us. He takes the essence of human life sometimes and puts every bit of it on the page like a mirror. In this he is tremendously successful. And yet I found the character of Rosalind, his wife, strangely blank among the striking figures of his children and his father in law.
I'll forgive him the use of poetry as a means of calming an assailant. For me it wasn't that ridiculous and linked nicely with an earlier event. It showed how Perowne and his daughter used their weapons (and lies) in the same way. It demonstrated the lineage. I'll also forgive him the excessive neurological detail in the first chapter though I was glad to be past it. For this is a great novel of ideas, and a gripping read - a joy to read.
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on 10 April 2005
If you understand and enjoy reading medical jargon as well as overinterpretation after overinterpretation of the most trivial things in life, this book is for you. While I will not say it was a bad book, I didn't have problems putting it down until it's final bout of excitement (I think the ending is the best part of the book, not because it's the end, but because something actually happens that isn't mundane). Saturday is an interesting book if you're exceptionally patient, I found myself skim reading alot of the book (most notably at the begining of the book) just to avoid explanations of operations on parts of the brain everyone should know performed by the books' pristine yet boringly troubled main man Henry Perowne.
Obviously this book is intended to reflect a whole day and that is why alot of memories and random thoughts are included, unfortunately alot of these thoughts and memories just seem to be there to make intelligent people feel more intelligent. Unfortunately I don't fall into that category so I didn't enjoy reading about the importance of the positioning of a certain shop on a certain street in a certain part of London, which is of course likely to be attacked by terrorists so Henry had best hurry to his squash game because he has to visit his senile mother because he didn't get any sex this morning from his wife because they are both so busy at what they do is pretty good especially when Henry saves a life is so short lets explore it in every minute detail including how to cook a casserole. And don't forget his sons blues band practicing.
Maybe McEwan has a style of writing that has to grow on a person, maybe these boring events (with the exception of the ending) are exciting to people who've read McEwan before, to me they're incredibly arduous to read. Even his brush with Baxter became another shade of grey when it should've been full of colour and emotion.
In finishing, if you have read Ian McEwan novels before and enjoyed them, by all means buy this as previous reviewers rant about it's precision reminiscent of his previous works. If you've not read Ian McEwan before don't buy this book. If you know someone who owns the book, maybe you could borrow it and read the brush with Baxter then skip to the rivetting ending sequence, believe me everything other than those two events are totally irrelevant to anything except creating a feeling of dread and unease. The idea is full of potential, unfortunately it isn't executed quite as well as it probably could've been.
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on 27 February 2006
I loved "Child In Time" and "Enduring Love" as much as almost any novels I've read in the last few years. But this was unsatisfying and rather muddled. McEwan seems suddenly a little insecure about the significance of fiction in the world. He pits words against music - can you evoke a blues tune by naming the notes and the way they're played? Clearly not, so one wonders what made him think to try.. Can you make a 10 page account of brain surgery dramatically interesting with no antagonist in the room and a surgeon who is certain and steadfast? Mmm. It's almost as if McEwan's had a midlife crisis and wonders whether, faced with such a complex and unresolvable political landscape, his pen is less mighty than other more precise tools he might have wielded in his life - a neurosurgeon's scalpel perhaps. His reverence for the absolute and material is such that it suffocates our emotional involvement. In only perhaps two moments in 280 pages do you really feel the main character Perowne's cosy way of life under threat. That leaves a lot of "texture" and a whole text book of science - McEwan must have known we were going to flick disinterested through some of his pages. And am I the only one to find his dialogue a bit Mills and Boon?
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