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The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
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The Cement Garden (original 1978; edition 1980)

by Ian McEwan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,095832,830 (3.61)212
In the relentless summer heat, four abruptly orphaned children retreat into a shadowy, isolated world, and find their own strange and unsettling ways of fending for themselves.
Member:crimson-tide
Title:The Cement Garden
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Picador (1980), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library, Available
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, 1001, england, siblings, death, R19

Work details

The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (1978)

  1. 61
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books show children suddenly left without controllers.
  2. 00
    Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill Cleaver (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Orphans home alone.
  3. 00
    The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Orphans home alone.
  4. 00
    The Masters of the House by Robert Barnard (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Orphans alone in a house.
  5. 00
    Our Mother's House by Julian Gloag (FemmeNoiresque, SomeGuyInVirginia)
    FemmeNoiresque: The Cement Garden follows the same basic plot as Our Mother's House, with situations (children communing w/ hidden mother, a charming rogue male enters their lives & entrances one of the sisters, the neglected younger children suffer subverted into Ian McEwan's style. Our Mother's House is of a more heightened and gothic style. Like The Cement Garden, Our Mother's House was adapted into an underrated and unusual film with Dirk Bogarde, Pamela Franklin, Yootha Joyce and babies Phoebe Nicholls and Mark Lester.… (more)
  6. 00
    De rode strik by Mensje van Keulen (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Kinderen, alleen in huis, nemen actie op een vergelijkbare manier
  7. 00
    Mother's Boys by Bernard Taylor (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Another story of a disintegrating family with incestuous overtones.
  8. 02
    We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Monika_L)
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» See also 212 mentions

English (72)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (3)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
What do 3 teenagers with a younger brother do when their mother dies soon after their father. After setting up a complete isolate family in a house removed by urban decay from any close neighbors, the author takes them through a record hot summer on their own. It isn't quite the incestuous [Lord of the Flies] of the blurb, but it isn't pretty. ( )
  quondame | Nov 9, 2019 |
What a disturbing book. It's about four children / teenagers who lost their parents one after the other. The father died first, not before he bought tons of bagged cement and processed it with his son for a walk in the garden. The mother suffered for some time from a disease that led to death. While the father received a proper burial, the two eldest children cemented the mother in a box in the basement. Since the summer vacation was just beginning and the family had no other relatives and friends, nobody noticed for a long time what was happening in the lonely house.
The siblings had a special bond to each other. What began in childhood as a doctor's play ends in incest. The youngest decided after the mother's death that he would rather be a girl. His big brother resisted for a long time while the sisters dressed him with love, and sometimes even treated like a baby.
It's a story that really gets under your skin. ( )
  Ameise1 | Nov 8, 2019 |
Originally published in 1978, The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan is a short and decidedly bleak story about a family in which both the father and mother pass away. The four children decide to conceal the death of their mother, so that they will not be separated. They place her body in a trunk and cement it over.

I can’t complain about this author’s writing which is pitch perfect, his subject matter on the other hand was not to my taste involving as it did masturbation and sibling sex. There were plenty of "yuck" moments sprinkled throughout the text. After the death of the mother, I simply wanted an adult to step in and take over as both the house and the children continued to deteriorate.

The Cement Garden will certainly never make the list of my favorite books, but I could appreciate that it was an easy read, that the story moved along quickly and that although disturbing, this short and riveting story will be one that I long remember. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 6, 2019 |
Flying through The Cement Garden, I would first advise against reading it just before bed, especially if some Gruyere had been nibbled that evening. Finishing the novella in the cold light of day, I find it remarkably creepy. McEwan achieves perfect pitch. I dare say he strikes closer to The Destructors by Greene than anything else. Many people cited Lord of the Flies as a cousin (no pun intended) but that harrowing tale is reductively feral whereas the trauma of Cement Garden and Graham's lads gone wild remain so coldly industrial.

I saw the film in the mid-90s and it bothered me. I found the prose a more intriguing paen. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This book is creepy and uncomfortable to read, but good! ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
The Cement Garden is in many ways a shocking book, morbid, full of repellent imagery—and irresistibly readable. It is also the work of a writer in full control of his materials.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Robert Towers (pay site) (Mar 8, 1979)
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McEwan, Ianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Enzensberger, ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hockney, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagner, AstridEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way.
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