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The Children Act by Ian McEwan
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The Children Act (2014)

by Ian McEwan

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Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
A fascinating case to judge when a boy refuses a blood transfusion because of his religion. And this alongside the crumbling marriage of the judge - the small politenesses, avoidances, and fears of public judgement felt staggeringly true. And, a recurring theme in McEwan’s writing, the obsessive stalking character... ( )
  LARA335 | Sep 10, 2018 |
I am not a fan of Ian McEwan’s writing so when I saw that I had to read this for my library’s bookclub I was not looking forward to it. I have to say that my initial opinion of Ian McEwan’s writing was further confirmed upon the reading of this book.

I found the book was really slow to read, especially when McEwan was dealing with the personal relationship between Judge Fiona Maye and her husband. The writing at these points gave me the impression that writing about personal relationships was not something with which McEwan was all that comfortable. However, when McEwan wrote about the court case of Adam the book was far more interesting, better structured and generally far more absorbing to read - I lost all sense of time when I was reading these bits - than I ever did with the parts concerning the judge’s marriage.

Another area where this book was let down was by the sheer length of the chapters. There were only five chapters in the entire book, with most of them being around 40 pages long each. This can be, and often is, a turn off for many people, and I must say that I was one of them. I found myself wishing he would hurry up and end each chapter because I felt like I was having to drag myself through the book to get it read.

McEwan also did something that is a pet peeve for me when reading books: introducing words that are foreign to its readers without providing their meaning. In this case, the word mentioned was otolaryngology, which is the study of diseases of the ear and throat. When this is done, it’s as if authors assume their readers are going to know exactly what they are talking about. When I was taught to write essays at school we had drummed into us that you write as if the person who was going to be reading it had no clue as to what you were talking about. The same approach can, and should be, adopted when writing a book. A book is essentially a really long essay!

There were, however, a couple of interesting comments he made which I felt were note worthy: 1) He posed a question about whether the Anglican church - it is interesting that he singled out the Anglican church - was a cult or not. This is a question that I have heard a number of people, over the years, ask about churches in general. I maintain that whilst people may feel that churches appear to be cult like, when one is in a cult it is extremely difficult to leave, whereas in a ‘normal’ church you are free to leave whenever you want to; 2) “A child shouldn’t go killing himself for the sake of religion.” This quote immediately reminded me of a number of organisations where this sort of thing happened, is still happening in today's world - Jones Town, ISIS, and any war.

Overall, I didn’t like this book very much at all. I could only give it 2 stars and I think that was probably generous, and I certainly wouldn’t read any more of his books unless I absolutely had to. ( )
  zarasecker18 | Aug 22, 2018 |
This was ok but too many summarised legal cases with which it was hard to sympathise. Not sure the act which the whole thing hinges was quite thoroughly embedded or credible. ( )
  adrianburke | Aug 5, 2018 |
A judge has to decide a difficult case about a boy just months from the age of consent who might die without a blood transfusion - something his religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness forbids. She makes her decision, he undergoes a kind of conversion to secularism and ... stuff happens. Beautifully written but a bit irritatingly self-absorbed in the end.
1 vote bfister | Jul 8, 2018 |
It was OK, it was fine, it just wasn't moving for me. I came to McEwan with [b:Atonement|6867|Atonement|Ian McEwan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320449708s/6867.jpg|2307233] and thought "why have I not discovered this wonderful writer up until now?" Since then, I have read five other of his books, this making number six. None has measured up to Atonement and the last two have been downright disappointing.

I could not muster a whit of feeling for any of these characters. My Lady was unattainable and cold despite McEwan's attempts to give her depths, Adam was a cliche that was meant to stand in for everything that is wrong with religion. I was more interested and concerned with what the aftermath might have been for the surviving conjoined twin, who was just another case study. In all of Fiona's cases, the common theme seemed to be people who were more concerned with their strict religious beliefs than the survival of their children. I doubt a jurist would see even one of these cases in his time on the bench, let alone a group of them. Now, people who are more concerned with their own wants than the children...that I think would be common enough.

I was unconvinced by Fiona and Jack's relationship as well. No problems, complete fidelity, she is a stellar wife who showers him with attention and then six months of she is bothered by something and has no sexual appetite for six weeks and he is off to find a mistress. Please! I would consider all that came before a lie and boot his butt right out the door.

While I appreciate the deeply subjects McEwan meant to explore here, I think the book fails to make me truly care about them. It rather invites me to stand outside and view them intellectually, which is exactly what the tone of the book seems to be. McEwan is omniscient and uncaring himself. After closing this one, I think McEwan has to come off of my "I want to read everything he wrote" list. I can see that he and I are not always a good fit. ( )
2 vote phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Ian McEwan, master of obsession, fumbles with his latest, The Children Act
 
McEwan, always a smart, engaging writer, here takes more than one familiar situation and creates at every turn something new and emotionally rewarding in a way he hasn’t done so well since On Chesil Beach (2007).
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews (Sep 9, 2014)
 
Although thrillingly close to the child within us, McEwan nonetheless writes for, and about, the grown-ups. In a climate that breeds juvenile cynicism, we more than ever need his adult art.
 

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Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'When a court determines any question with respect to...the upbringing of a child...the child's welfare shall be the court's paramount consideration.'

Section 1(a) The Children Act (1989)
Dedication
To Ray Dolan
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London. Trinity term one week old.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies a private sorrow and domestic strife. There is a lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital - an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
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"Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts. But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case--as well as her crumbling marriage--tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page"--… (more)

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