Ian McEwan, in this novel, he has you within the shoes of an interesting female protagonist.
Her field of profession is the court system, dealing with adult matters but also ‘A Children Act’, and one particular case involving adults and children in a tug between the lines of death and living, with faith overshadowing the decision.
This one particular case is her greatest challenge yet due to unforeseen circumstances and decisions, whilst tackling her own troubles close to home, her marriage. This tale that has you thinking long after the story finishes, matters of faith and making decisions that alters communities and personal beliefs come to mind.
The pages fly through and the story had me entertained throughout with careful placed wordings and descriptive writing, sparse but eloquent, emotional and symphonic, the author has you carefully involved with his scenes in a heartwarming tale, sad but with a ting of reality to the whole matter.
McEwan praised the 1989 Children’s Act. A quick search on wikipedia will bring up this:
“The Children Act 1989 states that children’s welfare should be the paramount concern to the courts. It also specifies that any delays in the system processes will have a detrimental impact on a child’s welfare. The court should take into account the child’s wishes; physical, emotional & educational needs; age; sex; background circumstances; the likely effect of change on the child; the harm the child has suffered or is likely to suffer; parents ability to meet the child’s needs and the powers available to the court.”
The author may be rattling some souls with the way this tale deals with the belief of one child and his family, in the decision for life or death, but leaves you to make your own mind up once the story is well over. Fiction with subject matter that surpasses the imaginary and has wider and more complex stronghold on this place called earth.
“In part, her memory was of a prolonged and awful din assaulting her concentration, a thousand car alarms, a thousand witches in a frenzy, giving a substance to the cliche: the screaming headline. Doctors, priests, television and radio hosts, newspaper columnists, colleagues, relations, taxi drivers, the nation at large had a view.”
“This court is a court of law, not of morals, and our task has been to find, and our duty is then to apply, the relevant principles of law to the situation before us-a situation which is unique.”
“She set off on her usual route from Gray’s Inn Square to the Royal Courts of Justice and did her best not to think. In on ehnad she carried her briefcase, in the other an umbrella aloft. The light was gloomy green and the city air was cool against her cheeks. She went out by the main entrance, avoiding small talk by nodding briskly at John, the friendly porter. Her hope was that she didn’t look too much like a woman in crisis. She kept her mind off her situation by playing to her inner ear a piece she had learned by heart. Above the rush-hour din it was her ideal self she heard, the pianist she could never become, perfuming faultlessly Bach’s second partita.
Rain had fallen most days of the summer, the city trees appeared swollen, their crests enlarged, the pavements were cleansed and smooth, the cars on High Holborn showroom clean. Last time she had looked, the Thames at high tide was also swollen and a darker brown, sullen and rebellious as it rose against the piers of the bridges, ready to take to the streets. But everyone pushed on, complaining, resolute, drenched. The jet stream was broken, bent southward by factors beyond control, blocking the summer balm from the Azores, sucking in freezing air from the north. The consequence of man-made climate change, of melting sea ice disturbing the upper air, or irregular sunspot activity that was no one’s fault, or natural variability, ancient rhythms, the planet’s lot. Or all three, or any two. But what good were explanations and heroes so early in the day? Fiona and the rest of London had work to get to.
By the time she was crossing the street to go down Chancery Lane, the rain was coming down harder, at a fair slant, driven by a sudden cold wind. Now it was darker, droplets bounced icily against her legs; crowds hurried by, silent, self-absorbed. Traffic along High Holborn poured past her, loud and vigorously undeterred, headlights gleaming on the asphalt while she listened again to the grand opening, the adagio in the italian style, a distant promise of jazz in the slow dense chords. But there was no escape, the piece led her straight to Jack, for she had learned it as a birthday present to him last April. Dusk in the square, both just back from work, table lamps lit, a glass of champagne in his hand, her glass on the piano as she perfumed what she had patiently committed to memory in the previous weeks. Then his exclamations of recognition and delight and kindly overdone amazement at such a feat of recall, their long kiss at the end, her murmur of happy birthday, his most eyes, the clink of their cut-glass flutes.”
“Adam lay still, taking i what she had said. At last, he turned his head on the pillow and his eyes met hers. She had squandered enough gravitas already and was determined not to look away. His breathing was more or less under control; his look was dark and solemn, impossible to read. That didn’t matter, for she was feeling calmer than she had all day. No great claim. If not calm, the hurried. The pressure of a waiting court, the necessity of a rapid decision, the consultant’s urgent prognosis were temporarily suspended in the penumbral air-sealed room as she watched the boy and waited for him to speak. She was right to have come.”