Ian McEwan: The Children Act


The latest addition to my website is Ian McEwan‘s The Children Act. This novel did not make the Man Booker 20124 longlist and, while it certainly is not a bad book, it is not McEwan back to his old form. It tells the story of Fiona Maye, a High Court judge in the Family Division, who is dealing with two difficult cases, involving religious issues, while her sixty-old husband is telling her that he is going to have an affair with a twenty-nine year old woman, as the passion has gone out of their marriage. Much of the novel concerns one of the religious cases, involving Jehovah’s Witnesses. A seventeen year old boy, Adam Henry, is suffering from leukaemia and, according to the doctors, unless he has an urgent blood transfusion, he is likely to die and his death will not be pleasant. However, his religion strictly forbids blood transfusion and he and his parents are adamant that he should not have one. The entire matter, in their view, is in God’s hands. As he is only three months away from his eighteenth birthday, his parents and their lawyers maintain that his decision should prevail. Fiona Maye has to decide – urgently – whether that is right. Inevitably, the decision is based on abstruse legal decisions. However, there is a moral element to it, as McEwan shows that Fiona cannot entirely detach herself from the moral aspect of her decision. While this is certainly an interesting story and McEwan does get involved in moral arguments about this issue and others, I have to wonder, if it had not been written by Ian McEwan, whether many people would read this book.

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