McEwan is one of my favorite writers, but this one did not catch me. The story revolves around a neurosurgeon who wakes up on his day off, only to see a plane coming in over the Thames, apparently on fire. It is a day filled with events and, at the end, a new respect for and understanding of his family, particularly his two young adult children and his father-in-law.
It gets better towards the end, as he comes to a new understanding of poetry and its importance to his daughter, and music, for his son.
In addition, there was an ethically jarring situation ....
[SPOILER] where the narrator actually goes in and offers to operate on a man who had attacked him and who was injured because the narrator and his son had thrown him down the stairs, causing a head injury. It might be justified because supposedly he was the best person to take care of the man, but even this was not totally clear. At the very least, he should have told the other members of the team. Also, it would be a nightmare for the prosecutors to deal with this situation. When a story conflicts with reality, it takes one out of the world of the story. [END OF SPOILER]
There are, of course, the inevitable comparisons with Joyce's Ulysses, but the comparison does not hold up well. There is definitely less excitement than in the TV show "24", though there are fewer cheap thrills also.
The subject involves reactions to 9/11 and our perceptions on this evolve as time goes on. The novel is inevitably somewhat limited by the perspective of the time in which it as written.
Perhaps my problem is that I work in the medical field and so a lot of the medical description, while realistic, was boring to me. Maybe this is interesting to those outside the medical field who get to see some of the inside, but to me, it was too much like a day at work.
There is honesty in this writing but, unfortunately, the subject matter was less interesting than his other novels.
Having read through the reviews, I was a little worried about those who said that this book was slow. I often listen when I am running, and I like novels to keep moving along. Theoretically, I suppose you could say that this book is slow, but the carefully building action is so carefully set up, the book is as dramatic as most I have read (or listened) to. Terrorism lurks in the background, allowing for reflection on our post-9/11 world, but really I think this book is a meditation on the nature of life itself and our place as parents and children. McEwan is such a careful writer; each word and phrase is staked out so as to later lead you into a new insight. I can't do justice to this book in my review; just buy it. If you enjoy other McEwan books and you want something that will make your head full of rich reflections on life while sometimes also hanging on the edge of your seat for the next piece of action, this is the book for you. Wonderful narration, too.
I can't imagine this book being read any better
I have listened to hundreds of audio books. This is my favorite of all and the only novel I've ever listened twice. Capturing the various thoughts of a person's everyday thoughts, feelings and ideas so well and yet so subtlety was very impressive and is what makes this book a masterpiece, in my opinion. My favorite audio book and possibly my favorite of any book I have ever read.
I was reading the book for a class on 21st Century British Lit. Had I not been reading this for a class, I may not have made it to the end. It took a very long time for anything at all to happen and when it finally did... Well, you will see... if you make it that far. There's a dragging quality, lots of day dreaming and set up for later occurrences. Not as much a question of time well spent as just the fact that it takes a really long time to finally feel like you are into the plot.
There are lots of changes I would have made to make it a little more believable. However, I would be giving away the story and since there's not much that happens I would like to leave a little suspense for future readers.
The narration is very slow and has lots of pauses. I had downloaded on my Mac and for some reason this recording would not allow me to speed up the narration.
I really see no need for a follow up book.
I really enjoyed this book! All of the action takes place in 24 hours and the prose is quite beautiful.
I have read some critical reviews of this novel -- it's slow, it's boring, and so on. Maybe it's because I like literary novels and enjoy careful thought and the philosophy that can be found in the mundane, but I did not find this book boring at all. Sure, if you have been raised on thrillers and mysteries, this may not be the book for you, but if you like to actually think about your characters, about the politics of your world, then this will be a meaningful book for you.
Okay, so I know I can't actually marry a book, but I truly felt like I was involved in a lurid tryst with this novel, sneaking off to enjoy bits and pieces, pausing the book more often than usual to think about it, or just prolong the experience, because I knew when the book's time ran out, the love affair did as well.
The novel follows Henry Perowne through one Saturday of his life. It turns the usually female domestic novel on its head -- instead, Henry is the one picking up food for dinner that night; he is the one worrying about the children. It is not solely a domestic novel, though; it is set squarely in its political time, i.e., right before we invaded Iraq. The ambivalence and confusion of that time, the unknowns and the possible future, are perfectly captured. As he is British, Henry is just far enough removed that he can comment intelligently on the situation but can do nothing further than that. Protests in London show Great Britain's frustration but these were ultimately futile.
Henry gets into an altercation with a working class Englishman and the confrontation between their two worlds is revelatory. The climactic scene pools all of the sources for Henry's anxieties into one situation he is forced to confront.
It is astounding how well one can feel they know the characters in a novel like this, just by glimpsing one day of their lives. It makes one wonder how much would be revealed of ourselves in one day, if closely analyzed.
The writing is wonderful. How anyone could spend so much time writing about one day is beyond me. I didn't find the story that compelling but the writing was very good so perhaps it was worth it.
After listening to 'Solar' (my first Audible book) and being completely 'rapt', I found 'Saturday' not quite up to the high benchmark previously set. The scene between Henry and daughter Daisy was long, tedious and unconvincing in their dialogue, and the fact that Henry is allowed back to the hospital after a fairly heavy drinking session isn't up to McEwan's usual standards of getting the details just right. It also lacked the dry, wry,black humour in both the writing and the narration found in 'Solar' that I enjoyed so immensely. However all that said, 'Saturday' is still a well written and an enjoyable listening experience.
This book works especially well as an audiobook because it is a first person rendering - the thoughts of a happy, successful doctor as he lives through a series of very unsettling events. Literary fiction can be tough to follow in audio, but in this case the insights and descriptive passages came clearly through the voice of the key character.
I thought this novel was strong were it should have been understated while it was understated where it should have been strong.
The central story of the bad man who comes into the life of the protagonist sometimes seems a little thin, whereas the smallest detail of this day in the life story can be laid on a little thick.
The subplot of the Iraq War protests are very interesting seen from our current point of view.