At 221 pages, THE CHILDREN ACT, by Ian McEwan is McEwan pure and at his best.
I love this compact novel. I love Mr. McEwan’s smooth and sophisticated prose. I love the story. And even though at times the story-line was difficult to read, I loved it still.
Fiona Maye and her husband Jack are at a particular point in their marriage where there may be reason for pause. Or not. Jack thinks so. What of Fiona?
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London. She presides over family cases. Some of the cases Fiona has presided over have been difficult to say the least. Presently she is working on a particularly unique and trying case where the seventeen-year-old son of Jehovah’s Witness’s is suffering from leukemia. Without a blood transfusion he will surely die, or possibly be left in a situation where he would wish he was dead. This beautiful young man’s life is now left in the hands of Fiona. For it is she who will make the final decree: with or without the parent’s consent. And the boy is just a few months shy of his 18th birthday where he could legally choose for himself.
I love Fiona’s character: strong, brilliantly intelligent, and still in love with her husband of over thirty years but, she is no pushover. And when Jack tells Fiona in blunt English that he wants to have an affair, I applaud her handling of the situation! The way McEwan sets up this scene is brilliantly sly. And I will never, ever forget it.
Faith, love, and the law; all huge portions of this spare novel. Spare but full, almost to bursting. I feel McEwan has pulled from personal experience here. And it works for him. No one could write such heartfelt scenes of a 35-year marriage without having experienced some of the angst.
This is a novel I will reread. It would be worth it just for the outstanding, understated prose; sentence after pristine sentence. But then there is the story. Oh, the story. I loved it.
Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday provided my review copy. Thank you so much!