©2005 Ian McEwan; (P)2005 BBC Audiobooks Ltd.
This is a fine novel, for all that it contains the oddest flaws (sex scenes that belong in Mills and Boon--hard to credit McEwan could have written them). Takes on the difficulty of writing a novel about a man who is lucky, happy, contented, fortunate. Almost succeeds, against all the odds (think here of McEwan's US counterparts--Roth, for example). An intriguing post 9/11 novel, and worth reading for the aspects of it that are wonderful. The reading lets it down--an effort to make Perowne sound excitable that works against McEwan's characterisation.
I wish more of his novels were available on Audible.
This is a reasonable book to read if you've got some time to waste and nothing better to do. The story was captivating enough so that I wanted to continue until the end, even though I found the protagonist -- who is clearly at least in part the author -- increasingly distasteful as the book progressed.
Saturday is really a thinly-veiled diatribe in favor of the war in Iraq, and not a very convincing one. As is always the case with political tracts this tends to make the characters thin and the story labored and contrived. Like his own protagonist McEwan is also clearly a man who is playing to win in everything he does -- and in writing this book you can sense the strained effort to produce "magnificent prose" in almost every line. The result is very male, very macho and rather tedious.
There is nothing here that a literature professor could find fault with, and that is another thing that is very wrong with this book. It reads as though it had been written by someone who has spent their entire life in educational institutions and has never had time off to live along the way.
What a relief it was to move from this to Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami -- a book that a literature professor would doubtfully find fault with in many, many ways, but which breathes genuine life and humanity on every page. In stark contrast to this achievement-oriented, applause-seeking work by McEwan.
I loved this book, and will even listen to it again, definately my favourite audible book so far, didn't want to stop listening.
"Messing With My Peridontal Atrium"
A beautifully read but ultimately slightly disappointing listen. It builds rather well to a pivotal moment but then the epilogue, if I can call it that (you'll know what I mean when you listen) goes on rather too long.
Some of the minute detailing is very cleverly chosen but, like bad close up magic, one gets glimpses of how Ian McEwan has done it and at times it feels more like a writerly exercise to see if he can make one day last a whole book, more than a book that demanded to be written. Also, the medical language is a bit overdone to the point of sounding like either "I've done the research so I'm going to use it" or vaguely lascivious.
All of that said, the key episode is brilliantly done and gripped me completely. That is worth the download cost on it's own and why I give it four and not three stars.
"A detailed account of a terrible day"
This book has some of the same nightmarish qualities of another Ian McEwan book 'Enduring Love' in that the central character is a man caught up in a sequence of events that he can't control and that draw his family into frightening consequences. As a side-line certain moral dilemmas are explored which add an extra dimension to the book. Well worth listening to.
Beautifully crafted, very well read. I hadn't got the hang of my iPod shuffle, so I listened more than twice to much of the book, and enjoyed every scene. The 'dramatic' part of the plot is not very satifying, but that doesn't detract from the wonderful portrayal of personality and character.
I have read other books written by Ian McEwan and I have loved all of them so far.This One is an exception (I hope)James wilby is a very good reader and he has tried to make this book less boring
Write it as a short story
The old Mother
The plot is not exciting and the characters ill-defined, except for Henry the protagonist.Well-written (but as an exercise of goodwriting) the home scene with the entire family gathered for a special saturday dinner, and the ugly and perversed intruder (Baxter) who comes inside to spoil such an intimate and desired meeting.The expected happy end is preceeded by the most boring pages, where the operating room and its proceedings are listed in too full details. This accuracy is totally uncalled-for, it adds nothing to the plot and the impression is.....Has perhaps the Editor required a defined number of pages?Sorry for my English, but I really could not stand this novel.
"Great, but ....."
This book took me a very long time to get into but it was a really thought provoking story covering a 24 hour period. I never really warmed to the lead character. The very privileged life of than characters meant it was harder to find the sympathy they might otherwise have drawn, but maybe that was the point!
McEwan builds fantastic tension by taking the pace much slower than the listener wants, and creating hugley rounded complex characters. I thought I could just see the edges of his research peeping through (e.g. blues guitar music, medicine) but no matter. It helped that I know that area of London well, so could picture exactly what he was describing - but I think you'll get the picture just fine without knowing the area!
The finale is horrifying and gripping, but very believable. Also watch out for the squash game - a real highlight for me! Having put it off for ages, because I've heard it's miserable, I'll now be listenig to 'On Chesil Beach' - lucky enough to have been there too - last year.
This is a cleverly written book but for me it had no heart.
I found Perowne intensely annoying. He might have come across as simply smug, which would have been bad enough, but instead he was just self-conscious of his being humane and thoughtful, which for me was far worse than smugness.
This may be because of the device of being with him throughout the course of one day and sharing all of his thoughts ? his unremarkable reminiscences, his unbelievably wonderful wife and children, each one of them talented, his marvellous professional skill as a surgeon, his awareness of his one lapse into temper which is really quite mild, spun out to little purpose (over a game of squash of all things). Even his refreshingly bad father in law manages to behave heroically at one point.
He was also, for an educated man, made to be unaware of so many things in a way that I couldn't believe, to permit a diversion down yet another narrative avenue.
The "villain of the piece" is two-dimensional, which means even he wasn't as interesting as he might have been.
The narrator has a pleasant reading voice, not hugely animated but suiting the measured tone of the narrator.
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