Neurosurgeon Henry Perowne enjoys life immensely and considers himself fortunate to love the woman he's married to. As he makes his way through an immense London crowd of Iraq protestors, he has a minor automobile accident. His trained eye immediately senses something neurologically wrong with Baxter, the other driver. So when the confrontational Baxter visits the Perowne home later that evening and events take a tragic turn, it is Henry who must employ his skills to save Baxter.
McEwan has been hailed as "one of the most gifted literary storytellers alive" by The New Republic, and Saturday is further proof of that claim.
Listen to an interview with Ian McEwan on Charlie Rose.
©2005 Ian McEwan; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"Dazzling." (The New York Times)
"A wise and poignant portrait of the way we live now." (Publishers Weekly)
"McEwan is as provocative, transporting, and brilliant as ever as he considers both our vulnerability and our strength, particularly our ability to create sanctuary in a violent world." (Booklist)
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog it is too dark to read. ~Groucho Marx
If you like great writing and a well-crafted narrative, pay no attention to the nay-sayers about this book. McEwan let me live inside Henry's head for the week it took me to finish the book, and a fascinating head it was! The incredible detail and accuracy of the neurosurgical and medical frame of the story itself is fascinating. More important, I was completely caught up in the present-tense narrative with its visits to Henry's past provoked by the moment-to-moment events of the one Saturday in question. The task of writing a novel that takes place in single day is a giant literary challenge. McEwan meets that challenge with a masterpiece of contemporary fiction. One of the best books I've read in recent years, and one of the first that have reflected on our reaction to events since 9/11 in a way that made sense to me.
New York, NY USA04-23-05
New York, NY USA04-23-05
Sheesh, I am glad I didn't see these other reviews before buying. They would have prevented me from one of the best reads I've had in a long time. Paint drying? I suppose if you're looking for Lights! Camera! Action! this will be a disappointment. But if you're a serious reader who enjoys sinking into the consciousness of someone else while being carried along by a really good story--download away. You won't be sorry.
I've been an audible.com subscriber for nearly five years and have listened to over 200 books. This book is easily one of the 15 best. I absolutely loved it! I often use customer ratings and reviews to guide my purchases. When I got this book, there weren't any ratings yet. Now, there are several and to my surprise they are poor!
As a anesthesiologist/intensivist, I often cringe at medical inaccuracies in literature. Perhaps it takes a physician to appreciate this book, but I found it absolutely stunning in it's accuracy and the way the author uses details to build the main character. The plot is suspenseful and very engaging. I couldn?t set it down. I was absolutely convinced the author was an accomplished neurosurgeon, and was stunned when I went to his website (http://www.ianmcewan.com/) and found that he it not. I?m American, but work with many UK physicians and nurses. McEwan captures the British personality in so many ways. I absolutely loved this book!
Every word of this book is impeccably written, nuanced and insightful about things specifially personal to its characters as well as to society in general. McEwan displays a deep knowledge of politics, music, literature, medicine, sports and more, and he described them with often biting, sometimes hilarious accuracy. This journey through a day in the life of a middle-class London brain surgeon and his family is fascinating throughout. Although not the action-packed thriller some readers here seem to want, there are a few hair-raisingly tense moments where the air of impending violence was palpable. The reader had just the right tone of British sophistication and wry humor to keep me listening with great pleasure. I was sorry to hear it end, and highly recommend this book - contrary to the reviews of other readers on this page. Try it!
I adored Steven Crossley's reading of 'Enduring Love'-- it was precisely right. But for 'Saturday', he seems to have imported the same lower-middle class Southern English accent he used for Jed Parry and grafted it onto Perowne's son. Worse, he pitched it a bit higher and re-used the same accent for Perowne's daughter. While the choice barely fits Perowne's young jazz-musician son, it fails completely on his daughter Daisy, who is an Oxford-educated poet. She sounds more like someone who'd be making change in a high street WH Smith.
Then there's the grating American accent Crossley attempts when reading Dr Strauss's lines... simply awful.
As much as these details shouldn't matter, they do colour the experience of listening to this audiobook; after all, the voices need to match the characters. When they don't, it makes listening to dialogue an exercise in suspending belief, one that prevents the listening from ever becoming immersive.
I too, almost did not get past the first chapter of this book, having been spoiled by "Enduring Love". I found it tedious and soporific in its myopic descriptiveness, and the book sat in my iPod, visited only occasionally when I had nothing else to do. But I was forced to stay with it, as I was in the midst of a life-altering transcontinental move and temporarily had no convenient high-speed internet access and thus could not easily download a replacement. And lo and behold, by the second half of the book, I found myself caught up in McEwan's focused scope of plot and in his meticulously nuanced and transcendant descriptions of the moment, and by the end I could not put it down and found myself in tears.
I don't usually write reviews but I felt I had to put my two cents into this curiously bimodal distribution. Ian McEwan is a brilliant writer and this story is quite engaging, although I have to say I don't think it is a book I would have read. But listening to it was very enjoyable. I found it almost hypnotic. It's hard to believe anyone could write the way McEwan does.
I loved this book so much I went out and bought a paperback after listening to the book. Great reader, the story moves at a pace that, as one of my friends said, makes you both dread the next lines and sit anxiously waiting for them. His coverage of the mind of a physician is as accurate as anyone could have done - physician or not. ( I am one, although not a neurosurgeon) It is a masterful reading, masterful book and one that will have endure well beyond the time in which it is set.
Though I'm not male, not a neurosurgeon, not British, not wealthy.....I felt a real kinship with Henry P. The impact of 9/11 and his assessment of the general condition of the world provides a dark backdrop to what action there is. This is a literary book in which I sort immersed myself; you can't be in a hurry for the next thing to happen.
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.
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