Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday Intro: The Children Act

London, Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather. Fiona May, a high court judge, at home on Sunday evening, supine on a chaise lounge, staring past her stockinged feet toward the end of the room, toward a partial view of recessed bookshelves by the fireplace and, to one side, by a tall window, a tiny Renoir lithograph of a bather, bought by her thirty years ago for fifty pounds. Probably a fake. Below it, centered on a round walnut table, a blue vase. No memory of how she came by it. Nor when she last put flowers in it. The fireplace not lit in a year. Blackened raindrops falling irregularly into the grate with a ticking sound against balled-up yellowing newsprint. A Bokhara rug spread on wide polished floorboards. Looming at the edge of vision, a baby grand piano bearing silver-framed family photos on its deep black shine. On the floor by the chaise lounge, within her reach, the draft of a judgment. And Fiona was on her back, wishing all this stuff at the bottom of the sea.
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan

With a nod to Dickens, Ian McEwan begins The Children Act, his most recent (2014) novel. I've read several of McEwan's novels and enjoyed them all, though On Chesil Beach is my favorite. Just a few pages into this book, I already appreciate the gradual insight into Fiona's career and marriage. I think it could turn out to be a very good book for discussion.


Here is the goodreads summary:
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family division. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the 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: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both. 
Have you read Ian McEwan?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

41 comments:

  1. Well, I'm one of those few people who doesn't like McEwan. I know, I know, but there you have it. But I sure hope you love this book. I'll be looking for your thoughts.

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    1. Beth F - You're not the only one... I know McEwan is not for everyone.

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  2. I liked this a lot. Of course, this is an author who has a unique style and takes getting used to.

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    1. Diane - He does take some getting used to, but I usually settle in pretty quickly.

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  3. I haven't but I like the intro! I have a feel you're about to introduce me to another author...

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    1. Audrey - McEwan is not for everyone. He has a unique writing style and his books can be a little dark.

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  4. He's such a talented writer. I find that he can express in 100 pages what other authors need 200-300 pages to get across. I recently read this one with my college alumni book club and we loved it. The story sparked lots of commentary about choices and relationships. I'm still thinking about it.

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    1. Catherine - I'm so glad to hear that! I'll see how I feel at the end, but I'm already thinking this might be a good book club selection.

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  5. I have only read one of McEwan's books and really liked it. I need to read more of his work. This sounds very interesting. I can see how this would be a relevant topic for today. I know it's come up in my own work from time to time--people refusing medical treatment for religious reasons. When it's a child involved, it can be especially controversial.

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    1. Wendy - I think this could be a really good book club selection... might lead to a pretty heated discussion.

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  6. I enjoyed this book, JoAnn, and loved how the author showed us a glimpse of the judge's personal world as well as her role on the bench. The issues were interesting to me, so I definitely added this one to my favorites by this author.

    I also liked On Chesil Beach.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - When I noticed the ebook available from the library, I remembered your review. That's one of the reasons I borrowed the book. On Chesil Beach was a favorite a few years ago.

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  7. I haven't read this author but I really like the beginning of this one. Here's my link: http://wp.me/p4DMf0-1gf

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    1. Ms. M. - McEwan is a very prolific author. On Chesil Beach and Atonement are my favorites so far.

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  8. The premise is definitely intriguing. I wonder about the writing style. It sounds more like a play than a novel. Hope you enjoy it. Here's Mine

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    1. Paulita - McEwan does take some getting used to...

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  9. I want to read this book too. I like the slow deliberate way the first paragraph reads. I do enjoy this author's work although I haven't read anything of his in several years. His books stay with me and they make me think.

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    1. Margot - I like the way it reads, too... the long sentences followed by a couple of short ones. And the details certainly set the scene.

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  10. I like the writing though the plot touches on very serious subjects!

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    1. Harvee - Yes, the subject matter is serious. Think it will be a good book for discussion.

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  11. McEwan is always tops in my book world! 👍😉

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    1. JudyMac - This is probably my fourth McEwan novel and I have three more waiting on my shelf. I seem to be collecting his books ;-)

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  12. Sounds different, I like it.

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    1. Vicki - The writing style is a little unusual, but I tend to like his books.

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  13. I have this from the library at the moment, so it's a yes from me. I really like McKewan.

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    1. Emma - I really like him, too. Just heard there is a new novel coming out later this year!

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  14. On Chesil Beach wasn't my favorite but I'm not sure which is. I haven't read this one yet. Enjoy!

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    1. Heather - On Chesil Beach seemed sadly beautiful to me. I've kept it on my shelf to reread one day.

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  15. I've not read any of McEwan. This does sound thought provoking. Girl Who Reads

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    1. Donna H - I think it will be, too. May suggest it to my book club.

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  16. I either like his books or I really don't. I have not read this one.

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    1. Nise' - There's not much middle ground with McEwan. Can;t remember the title, but there is one set in Venice that was a little strange.

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  17. Atonement is one of my favourite books of all times but I do find his books a little hit or miss - I love the premise for this one but the reviews I read made me think it may be a miss, so I haven't read it. I do hope you find it a thought-provoking read.

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    1. Cleo - Some books of his books have been much better than others, but a couple of bloggers with similar taste liked this one and I've decided to give it a go. Could be good for discussion either way...

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  18. The premise of this sounds so interesting. It gets at the heart of issues involving personal freedom and belief that are particularly interesting to me.

    I have not read McEwan but I would like to.

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    1. Brian Joseph - McEwan tackles some tough issues here and I'm curious to see how he will handle them. Not sure if my book club would go for this, but I'll bet it would lead to an excellent discussion.

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  19. I love the details described in that paragraph and think I might enjoy this novel by McEwan. I loved Atonement and thought Saturday was quite good, but I haven't read any of his more recent works. This one's going on my TBR list, JoAnne! Thanks!

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    1. Les - I really liked that opening, too, and the next few paragraphs and pages give an even clearer picture of the judge. Haven't gotten to the heart of the novel yet, but the set-up is wonderful. This is my fourth McEwan novel and I'm pretty sure Saturday is one of the three waiting on my shelf.

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  20. I don't think I have ever read any of his books.

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    1. Patty - McEwan's writing takes some getting used to and the subject matter often leans toward the dark side, but he can be wonderful.

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  21. This doesn't appeal to me. I'd pass it up for other books on my TBR. I hope you enjoy it!

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