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Found 18 results

  1. Can't decide if I am going to watch this dramatisation of Ian McEwan's 1987 novel. I have read it twice, many years apart, and couldn't make my mind up about it on either occasion. I'm pretty sure I started a thread about it on the second attempt, but it is one of the many we lost when BGOClassic went to the wall. Anyone else think they might watch it - either out of curiosity as to what sort of a fist they make of it, or just as a Benedict Cumberbatch fan?
  2. Review of Nutshell by Ian McEwan Ian McEwan is an author who has never failed to satisfy me in any of his books I've read. Alas, there is a first time for that and this is it. The narrator in the novel is a foetus soon to be born and narrating from inside the womb. There is his extremely alcoholic mother who has been separated from his father and then there is the uncle to be who happens to be sleeping with his mother. The uncle and mother decide due to the bad financial management of the uncle that they will murder his father. All 4 of the characters annoyed me, that was not a good start. And the novel sadly never recovered from that. And then the political rants from the foetus in it did not help. Sadly the novel just left me bored, feeling empty and I couldn't wait to get it over with so I could start something now. *
  3. I really enjoyed this - I had been looking forward to it for a while, and I wasn't disappointed. At the beginning of the book, the central character, Fiona Maye, a High Court judge, is judging on a very tricky ethical case regarding Siamese twins. Her husband arrives home and announces that he wants to have an affair - with her blessing. She throws him out and, while she is coming to terms with this huge shift in her life, is called on to judge in the case of a 17 year old Jehova's Witness who is refusing a blood transfusion which he urgently needs in order to treat leukemia. The first half follows her judgement, and the second half develops the ramifications for her life as the situation with her husband plays out. This is a very short novel, just over 200 pages, and I flew through it because I was gripped. I found it very emotive and had a tear in my eye a few times. I think he managed the female perspective very well, and it was what helped me to engage with the character who is quite remote from me in terms of background and situation (something that alienated me from the central character in Saturday.) Like Saturday, he spends some time on set pieces which don't have direct relevance to the plot - in Saturday, it was the squash match, and here, it was the central character accompanying a colleague on the piano at a fairly exclusive amateur concert. But here, it builds up to a crescendo of emotion, rather than seeming self-indulgent. I'm surprised that I couldn't find a thread - has anyone else read it?
  4. Jack, Julie, Sue and Tom are left with their mother when their father dies. Their mother hides away in her bedroom leaving the children to themselves. Three of them play an inappropriate game that clearly warps how Julie and Jack feel for each other. When their mother dies, they hide the death and in the stifling heat of summer, they go a little 'Lord of the Flies' but with added sex. It's a short and brutal novella, shocking and worrying in equal parts.
  5. I really enjoyed this novel, polishing it off in a few days. It is a first person narrative by a 70s MI5 agent, Serena Frome. She is accepted into the service at the recommendation of an older tutor with whom she has an affair while at Cambridge. Initially, the work is dull and underpaid, and she finds herself filing by day and speedreading contemporary fiction in a freezing Camden bedsit by night. She is given a mission, to recruit a novelist to a new project: a cover organisation who will offer him an income to write, on the (unspoken) basis that he seems to promote capitalist ideals in his writing. Serena falls in love with Tom, the writer, and the main narrative is fairly predictable from here. But I enjoyed following it through, and it had a great ending which made me want to go back and read it again. It's not a le Carre style spy story - thank goodness, as I'm not good at twists and turns. It's more character driven, and I liked it being set against the political background of my childhood, with the 3 day week and power cuts.
  6. I read this little novel a couple a weeks ago - it's anly around 98 pages - and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a strange one, and you don't really find out too much about the characters that are involved - you're told me about what they feel. There's a lot of description that normally puts me off, but it has a haunting feeling about it which keeps you gripped. Just wondered what eneryone else thought about it.
  7. This was very enjoyable. I heard that the book is a satire and in places it is very funny but I am not sure whether the global warming lobby are the targets or not. If they are, they are not lambasted enough. If they are not the target, I am not sure who is. Beard is a brilliant character who has no redeeming features at all. His life is ruled by inertia. Apart from his womanising he doesn't make an effort to direct or control his life and he drifts... fantastically.
  8. Set in 1955-6 in Germany amidst the backdrop of Operation Gold (The Berlin Tunnel), an inexperienced twenty-five-year-old British man and a divorced thirty-year-old German woman begin a love affair which at first seems innocent enough, but soon takes a dark twist—and then another, even darker one. This is a rare exception in a literary novel: character, meaning, and plot. Or is it a rare exception in genre writing: suspense with above average characterization and meaning? While I found the novel interesting as a whole, and rather suspenseful, it is neither as plot intensive as a plot-driven novel, nor is it as character intensive as a character-driven novel: it sort of hangs out there in the middle. I think it works—well, for the most part. The plot was adequate to carry the story along, but the characterization of both Leonard and Maria could have used a little more work, particularly Maria. The bulk of the novel is about Leonard maturing, as this is the first time he is out on his own and away from his parents. He's learning to see things through his own eyes—and he's changing. Not only is his sexual awakening discussed but also his developing independence. There's also a recurring comparison of almost everything British and American, some discussion of loyalty/fidelity, as well as guilt and innocence. The thing that relieved me the most when reading it was McEwan's narrative. Having only Atonement to compare it to, I was very, very, glad to see that he wasn't as obsessed with minutiae back in the early '90s, when this novel was written. That means the descriptions of rooms were enough to give us a picture, not a complete inventory; people walking were actually going some place, not cataloging everything for analysis; people writing a letter were actually trying to put words onto the paper for the purpose of communication, not listing every ancillary task performed during the writing process. No doubt you get the picture. There was, however, one plot point that bothered me: I thought it was a good novel, but I would offer these two warnings for potential readers: one, I wouldn't recommend it to sensitive readers as there are two potentially unpleasant items which some may find repulsive; two, I would recommend avoiding reading anything regarding Operation Gold (The Berlin Tunnel), George Blake, or William (Bill) Harvey. Not that a little knowledge about those constitute a complete spoiler, but I think I would have been more surprised if I didn't have prior knowledge of the subject.
  9. This is the 6th McEwan I've read and while all his books are very well written and impressive Amsterdam is also extremely entertaining and frequently very funny. The story opens at the funeral of Molly Lane, writer and restaurant critic, attended by her unpopular publisher husband George and 3 of her lovers - Julian Garmony, Conservative foreign secretary, Vernon Halliday, editor of a national newspaper, and Clive Linley, a successful composer. George seems to have managed to gain a control over Molly in her illness and death that he never had during her lifetime. In the weeks that follow some compromising photographs of Julian Garmony come to light and Vernon and Clive come up against their own moral dilemmas which are ultimately their undoing. This is a very good read which follows an unpredictable but ultimately believable and very satisfying plot.
  10. On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan I see this is out now. Anyone getting it soon? I might have done, but it turns out to be ve-e-ery short and I'm loathe to cough up the dough for such a brief read, so it's a paperback wait for me. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts, though.
  11. Seeing as board members are mostly disappointed with this book, I wonder if the author's comments might shed enlightenment on his intent and make a difference to the reactions expressed to date. 1) McEwan wanted to change the emphasis of this tale. He wanted to write about a character, who is generally content with life, career and family. He also wanted to write about the enjoyments of Herry Perowne life: sport, music and food. Does the problem lie in the fact that "happiness writes white" i.e is very difficult to get down on paper in a form that keeps the reader interested? 2) McEwan is a human materialist (should that be a material humanist?) and Perowne's being a brain surgeon allows him to explore in detail his fascination with the question of how the sum total of a human being is more than the sum of its component parts. What determines consciousness? How makes us appreciate art and literature, etc? In fact, the climax of the book revolves around this seeming paradox? Perowne, a scientist with no appreciation for literature, is in mortal danger and, yet, his life is dependent on the criminal's artistic appreciation for one piece of poetry. 3) The depiction of the disintegration of Perowne's mother is taken from that of McEwan's own mother. In fact, the conversation Perowne has with his mother is taken verbatim from diaries McEwan kept at the time of his mother's illness. (The diaries were not written with a view to publishing, I hasten to add. McEwan only decided to include them midway through writing the novel.) 4) The editing process. This was my major concer nbecause I think McEwan has been served poorly by his editors on this work. So I asked him to describe the editing process. The answer was quite enlightening in that editing is done by his wife (a professional editor) and his friend, the poet. (The name escapes me at the moment, but it is the poet from whom McEwan borrowed Daisy's poem.) So there we have it. Combine the lack of vigorous editing with the fact that McEwan quite openly states that he lost interest in writing fiction after the events of 9/11, and the odds are that the result would be poor. It has been described as "important" and I suppose as a depiction of the Zeitgeist of Autumn 2003 it is just that. Is that enough for it to win major awards? Time will tell but I, for one, will be outraged, if it does.
  12. Well, I got here eventually. I've read a couple of threads looking at specific aspects of the book, but nothing for more general comments, so I thought I'd take the liberty of coming along really late and starting one..... I've recently reread Enduring Love and found it just as gripping and disturbing second time round, so I had high hopes for Saturday. But - I just found it a real let down. I was really disappointed by it. Nothing much happened, and what did happen was diluted by a lot of long-winded musing about the nature of life, post 9/11 - which I felt ought to strike me as deeply profound and moving, but in fact just felt self-indulgent on the part of Mr McEwan. It seemed like a poor imitation of Enduring Love, to be honest. Opening: Dramatic incident involving a flying machine.... Followed by: Meeting between the main character and someone with a profound mental disturbance. Followed by: "Is the disturbed person following our hero or not????" To end with "Family and/or loved ones of our hero being held at knife/gun point in their own living room. Happy Ending, more or less. I'm not normally so rude about books, but I had such high hopes for this one that I feel really let down. I feel too cheated to be thoughtful and profound about it!!! Did the rest of you all love it? What am I missing??
  13. I'm struggling to understand the significance of the poem Daisy 'reads'. I think, perhaps, that some clue has been missed out when the abridgement for radio was made. Is this some sort of turning point in her relationship with her grandfather, recalling a time when they enjoyed poetry together and signalling a reconcilliation? Why that poem? Why should it have that effect on Baxter......It barely seems credible to me that 'poetry (as opposed to music) should have charms to soothe the savage breast' What significance is there in the fact that Henry only vaguely recognises the poem, I have hidden bits of my questions, in case there actually is significance in the choice of poem! I seem to have a problem with my second 'spoiler alert'.
  14. One of the problems I have with Saturday (and this not the only one!) is that there are whole paragraphs (or maybe even pages) that are long passages consisting solely of detailed neurological conditions and surgical procedures. I got the feeling he'd done lots of research with the quack chum he acknowledges, and was determined to fit it in regardless. It was unnecessary padding, and in a short novel too. We soon know Henry is a renowned brain surgeon, so all the extra stuff didn't add anything. I'm no writer, but I think every scene should advance plot and / or character in some way. These did neither. At the very least I found them distracting. Things are tootling along and then, here we go again. McEwan is a master craftsman and I'm surprised. Should his editor be ashamed, or am I being too harsh?
  15. Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, a newspaper lawyer, and proud father of two grown-up children, one a promising poet, the other a talented blues musician. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city, its openness and diversity, and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures - music, food, love, the exhilarations of sport and the satisfactions of exacting work - his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised. Ian McEwan's last novel, Atonement, was hailed as a masterpiece all over the world. Saturday shares its confident, graceful prose and its remarkable perceptiveness, but is perhaps even more dramatically compelling, showing how life can change in an instant, for better or for worse. It is the work of a writer at the very height of his powers. If you buy through our Amazon link a small percentage goes towards the maintenance of this site.
  16. just joined the group and started reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. Happy to hear from anyone about this book or author and i might even be persuaded to reveal my (very!) tenuous link with the author!
  17. I'm a big fan of Ian McEwan's novels, and this week sees the publication of his new novel Saturday, the follow-up to his best novel to date, Atonement. Here is a synopsis: Saturday, February 15, 2003 . Oddly - he' s never done such a thing before - Henry Perowne wakes before dawn to find himself already in motion, drawn to the window of his bedroom. He is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, a newspaper lawyer, and proud father of two grown-up children, one a promising poet, the other a talented blues musician. What troubles Perowne as he stands at his window is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the attacks on New York and Washington eighteen months before. Later during this particular Saturday morning, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him.Towards the end of a day rich in incident, a Saturday filled with thoughts of war and poetry, of music, mortality and love, Baxter appears. You can buy this book in hardback from Amazon for £10.79, which is 40% off, by clicking on one of these links: <iframe width="300" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=ian%20mcewan%20saturday&mode=books-uk&p=12&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6E7DE&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='300' height='300'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_300x300.gif" width=300 height=300 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe> RRP: £17.99, <a href ="http://www.thebookplace.com/bookplace/spring2005.asp?CID=BGO733" TARGET="_blank">The Book Pl@ce</a> Price: £17.99 Just click on book jacket: <a href="http://www.thebookplace.co.uk/bookplace/display.asp?ISB=0224072994&CID=BGO733"TARGET="_blank"> <IMG SRC=""> </a> (It may be full price, but they are signed copies.)
  18. One windy spring day in the Chilterns Joe Rose's calm, organized life is shattered by a ballooning accident. The afternoon, Rose reflects, could have ended in mere tragedy, but for his brief meeting with Jed Parry. Unknown to Rose, something passes between them - something that gives birth in Parry to an obsession so powerful that it will test to the limits Rose's beloved scientific rationalism, threaten the love of his wife Clarissa and drive him to the brink of murder and madness. <iframe width="120" height="268" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=Enduring%20Love%20-%20Ian%20McEwan&mode=books-uk&p=8&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6E7DE&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='120' height='268'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_120x268.gif" width=120 height=268 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
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