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.
This book bored me to tears, but I listened to the very end, hoping for something interesting to happen. It didn't. I failed to identify with any of the characters, and had no interest at all in their fates.
This audiobook is distinguished for its superb narration. It is difficult to imagine that a reading of the book would have produced as enjoyable an experience, because author McEwen crafts sentences that reveal both the attitude and interior character of a single person, one almost engaged in a monologue. The narrator expertly conveys the attitude along with the words.
The attitude is that of one who is completely content in his world and accustomed to possessing complete control over it-- until 9/11 shatters that sense (illusion?) of control. Perown strives to regain mastery of his world in a single Saturday that confounds his efforts to do so at every turn. In the end, Perown seems to concede that his efforts are a failure-- his world will remain ever unpredictable-- but what he has cobbled together is a serenity that he (and McEwen) shares with the reader. For the reader, and especially for the listener, it is an unanticipated pleasure to go along for the ride with the character, author and narrator.
It's fascinating that the reviews for this book are either raves or rants. I agree with the first reviewer: If I could give this zero stars I would. 1.5 of the 10.5 hours were of some interest to me, which leaves 9 hours for such stimulating events as, what would probably amount to 10 pages, on a squash match, or a very in depth description of Henry's mother's dimentia. How this book lands on any respected list of books of the year is more intriguing than any part of the book. Listen to "The History of Love" or "The Secret Life of Bees" not this overhyped book.
My God what a waste of effort trying to get through this piece of useless boring dribble. I have never written a book review before because I have never been so moved to do so. If I could have rated this a "0" or even less I would have. I kept waiting and waitning and waiting for something to happen........... it never did - only the long drawn out thoughts of the main character, or long and boring descriptions of the landscape. Take my word for it - DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME ON THIS ONE when there are so many wonderful alternatives !!!
This thoughtful book delves the inner thoughts of one man in a day in the post 9-11 world in London. Those who expect a thriller will be disappointed. Those who look for the author's trademark tight style and craftesmanlike prose, will be delighted, as I was.
The book convincingly addresses the meaning of life, equity, and integenerational relationships. This is NOT airplane reading ---indeed it starts off with a plane crash.
A great read though hyperbole (a charcter does an impossible number of surgeries in a day, etc) detracts a bit. It's thoughtful ruminating style colored with vague menace fit me perfectly.