We think they do not. Or that all reviews are either publisher’s versions or hugely influenced by the reputation of the author. This was confirmed to us when we finally got around to reading Ian McEwan’s ‘The Children Act’ (TCA). It was a book we had really been looking forward to. More so because of all the amazing things that had been said about it. But after reading the book we were left wondering about the worth of the reviews. Normally we like Ian McEwan’s writing and have enjoyed his earlier books but we felt there was too much that did not happen with TCA.
The story deals with a judge who has to decide whether blood transfusion can be given to a minor boy who has leukemia. His parents are refusing to allow the Hospital to give the blood because of their religious beliefs. It is an old issue which has over the years has been discussed considerably and which is probably why we were looking for a different perspective on it. Thrown into the story for some reason, probably for us to empathise with the judge, are all the details of her personal life with a husband who wants her permission to have an affair.
PS: I don’t understand why it was shortlisted for the Booker last year. I felt none of the superlatives applied to it. Other than, of course, the style of writing which is classically Ian McEwan.
LL: As the story goes, it was just ‘meh’ throughout.
PS: Books like Atonement and Sweet Tooth had substance whereas with TCA the reader keeps looking for a lot more depth and not finding it.
LL: The only thing I felt was that he had managed to create the atmosphere of a legal setting fairly well. But the forced parallels between the personal and professional life of the judge were too contrived.
PS: The story ended up being much more about her personal life than about the case and I think that is what I found disappointing. I was looking for much more rumination on the part of Fiona Maye about how she should decide on the case filed by the Hospital.
LL: The story about the boy, after the judgement was given, just went in a strange direction and that too, rather superficially.
PS: I just wish there were some books I had not bothered to read. I am going to remove the bad taste by re reading Emma.
All in all an over-hyped book. A hundred marks for style and zero for story.