I think Ian McEwan might be in a bit of a fallow period. I've read Chesil Beach, and Solar, and found the first distasteful and the second a bit of a piss-take; very funny, but rather disquieting, seeing it's remit, which was to write something about climate change. Sweet Tooth has been described on goodreads as 'boring'. Anyway, I started The Children Act with optimism and in a lot of ways I was rewarded. I enjoyed the factual details about Fiona Maye's job as a High Court judge in the family court and thought the start - which sets the subplot into action - was gripping. This fifty year old woman's husband is leaving her for his floosie because she hasn’t made love to him for seven weeks. Seven weeks! Wow, said hubbie (or maybe McEwan) should review what they expect of 50 year old wives, frankly. Anyway, off he goes and I thought his portrayal of Fiona, alone in her posh London flat was extremely empathetic.
At the same time, the main story kicks off. This investigates, sensitively, I thought, the dilemma the Jehovah Witnesses have when they need blood. A 17 year old boy is adament he’d rather die of his leukemia, than be tainted. She visits him in hospital and something sparks between them.
I think McEwan is exploring, again, the way one person can have an explosive effect on another, at first meeting, previously examined in Enduring Love. He does this with intimate depth and with the consummate skill of an long-experienced novelist. But I did miss the twists and explosions of previous books, such as Enduring Love, Saturday and Amsterdam. Maybe he’ll have a little fallow period, in which we can all enjoy, but not really rave, about his releases, and they he’ll be back POW! hitting us with something amazing.
The Children’s Act isn’t it, but it’s certainly a lovely, absorbing read that deserves good reviews.